Spaceflight Insider

Expedition 40 crew captures stunning images of Cygnus’ reentry

Photo Credit: Alexander Gerst / ESA

It is an image that NASA mission planners had worked to gain prior to one of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus’ disembarking from its perch high above the clouds. Expedition 40’s Alexander Gerst froze the moment in time with this stunning image of Orbital’s cargo vessel blazing a fiery trail across the skies above the Pacific. The image captured the conclusion of a mission stretching more than a month.

Photo Credit: Maxim Suraev / Roscosmos

Photo Credit: Maxim Suraev / Roscosmos

Cygnus re-entered Earth’s atmosphere around 9:00 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) this morning (Sunday Aug. 17). Cygnus should conduct a couple braking burns to place it into the proper heading to burn up somewhere above New Zealand and South America.

Not to be outdone, Russian Cosmonaut Maxim Suraev had also snapped imagery of the cargo vessel’s final moments.

The next flight of one of Orbital’s freighters is currently scheduled to take place on October 21. It will mark the fourth flight of Cygnus and the fifth of the Antares launch vehicle which delivers the spacecraft out of Earth’s gravity well on the first leg of its journey to the ISS.

Under the $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract that Orbital has entered into with NASA, the Dulles, Virginia-based company is required to fly an additional six missions. All total the company is tasked with delivering 44,092 lbs (22,000 kg ) to the orbiting laboratory by 2016.

Photo Credit: Expedition 40 / NASA

Photo Credit: Expedition 40 / NASA

This article was edited at 2:47 a.m. EDT on August 18, 2014 to include an additional image as well as more information regarding the CRS program

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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