Private Cygnus cargo ship departs space station for a fiery death

A private cargo spacecraft cast off from the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday (June 28) on a course toward oblivion as it wraps up its months-long mission to the outpost.

Built by Northrop Grumman, the robotic Cygnus freighter was released by the station’s robotic arm at 7:05 am EDT (1105) Tuesday morning. The departure occurred an hour later than planned to avoid potential encounters with space debris and allow for better communications with the spacecraft’s Northrop Grumman handlers, NASA officials said.

The Cygnus — named SS Piers Sellers after the late NASA astronaut and climate scientist — arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Feb. 21 with more than 8,300 pounds (3,760 kilograms) of scientific experiments and other supplies.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-17 cargo ship, the SS Piers Sellers, is seen at the end of the station’s robotic arm before departing the station on June 28, 2022. (Image credit: NASA TV)

“We just want to take a second to say congratulations to the entire Northrop Grumman and NASA team on an outstanding NG-17 mission,” NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins radioed to Mission Control after Cygnus’ departure.

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