Unlike the SpaceX Dragon that can return items to Earth, the Cygnus is designed to burn up upon descent. Once unloaded of its 1,300 pounds worth of food, clothes and other items, it will be filled with trash and cut loose toward the end of October. That's how the Russian, European and Japanese supply ships end up as well: self-destructing garbage cans.
The latest delivery included student experiments and, almost certainly, chocolate for the six-person crew. That's what astronaut Karen Nyberg was expecting, anyway, from her astronaut-husband and 3-year-old son.
Following the early morning capture, the astronauts worked to install Cygnus — named after the swan constellation — on the space station. The hatch opening was set for early Monday.
Both Parmitano and Mission Control paid tribute to the late astronaut for whom the Cygnus is dedicated: G. David Low. Low flew three times on space shuttles, then went to work for Orbital Sciences to help in this new commercial space effort. He died of cancer in 2008 at age 52. His family attended the Cygnus launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.
"To our great friend and colleague G. David Low ...this one's for you," Orbital Sciences said via Twitter.
Orbital Sciences Corp.: http://www.orbital.com/