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Christmas Delivery Arrives at the ISS

Astronauts Install New Cargo Spacecraft at Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Christmas has finally arrived for the six space station astronauts.

A privately launched supply ship reached the International Space Station on Sunday morning, three days after blasting off from Virginia. The space station crew used a hefty robot arm to capture the Cygnus capsule as the two craft zoomed side by side at 17,500 mph.

The Cygnus is carrying 3,000 pounds of equipment and experiments for NASA, including ants for an educational project. Also on board: eagerly awaited Christmas presents from the families of all six spacemen as well as some fresh fruit courtesy of NASA.

NASA is relying on private industry to keep the orbiting lab well stocked in this post-shuttle era and, in four more years, possibly supply rides for U.S. astronauts as well.

Orbital Sciences Corp. was supposed to make the delivery last month, well before Christmas, but the Virginia company had to wait. A space station breakdown in mid-December took priority, and NASA bumped the flight to January in order to repair the disabled cooling system at the orbiting outpost. Then, frigid weather at the launch site forced a delay. Then a strong solar storm interfered.

Flight controllers for Orbital Sciences, wearing mostly red company shirts, broke into applause once robot arm operator Michael Hopkins grabbed onto the Cygnus, more than 260 miles above the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. Within two hours, the capsule was bolted to the space station.

Because of the long day, the astronauts were supposed to wait until Monday before opening the hatch to Cygnus. But with presents from their families awaiting them, there was no telling whether they would oblige.

As a holiday treat, NASA stashed away the fruit for the two Americans, three Russians and one Japanese, and Orbital Sciences included a few surprises of its own.

This is the second visit by an Orbital Sciences cargo ship. The first was a test run last September; this one is the first official supply run under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA.

"I've been up here on station for about 3 1/2 months," Hopkins said, "and I've seen two Orbital vehicles in that time, and I think that's very impressive. So congratulations to everyone."

The Cygnus will be filled with trash and cut loose for a fiery, destructive re-entry in mid-February.

NASA is paying Orbital Sciences and the California-based SpaceX company to supply the space station. SpaceX will make its fourth delivery next month, launching from Cape Canaveral. Russia, Japan and Europe also make periodic deliveries.

Russia is the lone means of astronaut transport, however, until SpaceX or another American company is able to fly humans. NASA estimates that should occur by 2017.

This Cygnus is named for the late shuttle astronaut C. Gordon Fullerton, who helped conduct air-launched rockets for Orbital Sciences in the 1990s. He died in August at age 76 following a stroke. Sunday's successful linkup is a testament to Fullerton's career, both Hopkins and Mission Control noted.

"Gordo was an American hero," Mission Control said.

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raptureus210 January 13 2014 at 9:02 AM

Folks, are we spending our money wisely by putting billions into a station in hopes of escaping this world of destruction by this Administration lol. Seriously, it won't matter where we try to escape from, God will judge this nation and the people no matter where they go. Use our money on better things like, sharing the gospel, helping the poor, and stop all this waste!

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dennis January 13 2014 at 10:35 AM

This 'administration' has nothing to do with the space station It's all private enterprise. Keep up will you?

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lovett53 January 13 2014 at 8:42 AM

what awaste of money to many american families could be helped with the money nasa iswasting and ill bet it all isnt going where its supposed to

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dennis January 13 2014 at 10:36 AM

Private money....NOT THIS ADMINISTRATION for sure.

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cshae89546 January 13 2014 at 8:13 AM

It used to be that you never heard the end of all the wonderful things NASA was doing and discovering that would help the American people and world. What exactly is happening on the Space Station and what good is it to the average America who is struggling to take care of their family as their "wealth" is redistributed?

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GIDAD1 January 13 2014 at 7:23 AM

I was lucky to be selected to watch the last three shuttles. Bring back Shuttle launches to Cape Kennedy.

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b2ran January 13 2014 at 5:22 AM

When will UPS and Fedex jump into this delivery business. Who paid the bill and how much was it? Did the US eat it all? Just curious.

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dennis January 13 2014 at 10:40 AM

Private enterprise paid this bill.

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paulw3tzi January 13 2014 at 3:04 AM

Too many news people flapping their gums. Can't tell what is true and what is not. Everybody seems to delight in telling about polling numbers. How good are they? Garbage. Bottom line. You all voted for the envelope not for the documents inside. Same goes for the botox bimbo. You will vote for another envelope not the documents inside.

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frank1946 January 13 2014 at 12:46 AM

This is News.

Politics and Obamacare and Sex and Debt can wait till Monday.

Go Space X !

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manfrombighorn January 13 2014 at 2:25 AM

Obama is a bum!

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Ohm Shanti Peace January 13 2014 at 12:01 AM

Amazing that this info is not more prominent in our news. Space X is great! We do have highly intelligent people in USA who can accomplish so much. We need to hear more of this type of empowering information and less about "celebrities" who don't seem to model positive behaviors for our citizenry.

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robtcanning January 12 2014 at 9:59 PM

Bet they used UPS. That's why it took so long... lol

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NYRockstv January 13 2014 at 12:40 AM

I bet they got a orange parking ticket or two or three on the spaceship also !

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