Cargo ship delivers supplies - and pizza - to space station

An Orbital ATK-built Cygnus cargo ship, seen here passing off the west coast of southern Africa, arrived at the International Space Station early Tuesday, delivering 4,700 pounds of equipment and supplies.

NASA

A Cygnus cargo ship loaded with 4,700 pounds of equipment and supplies -- including ice cream and flatbread pizza fixings -- arrived at the International Space Station early Tuesday after a flawless two-day rendezvous.

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, operating the station's robot arm, captured the space freighter by locking onto a grapple fixture at 5:04 a.m. as the two spacecraft were sailing 250 miles above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.

"We see a good capture. Great job, guys," a flight controller radioed from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The Orbital ATK-built Cygnus began its journey atop an Antares rocket that blasted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport - MARS - at NASA's Wallops Island, Va., flight facility early Sunday. It was the eighth operational station resupply mission carried out by Orbital.

After a smooth rendezvous, the cargo ship pulled up to within about 30 feet of the space station early Tuesday and then stood by while Nespoli drove the arm in for capture. Once secured, flight controllers in Houston took over arm operations to pull the spacecraft in for berthing at the Earth-facing port of the central Unity module.

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Astronaut Paolo Nespoli, operating the space station's robot arm, captured the Cygnus cargo ship at 5:04 a.m. EST.

NASA

The astronauts plan to open hatches to begin unloading the supply ship Wednesday, no doubt eager to get their hands on a trove of tasty treats.

According to The Associated Press, the Cygnus delivered sauce, cheese, pepperoni, anchovy paste, tomatoes, pesto and olive oil for do-it-yourself flatbread pizzas. Also on board in a cold locker: ice cream cups, ice cream sandwiches and frozen fruit bars.

All told, the Cygnus was packed 2,734 pounds of crew supplies, 1,631 pounds of science gear and supplies, 1,875 pounds of space station hardware, 281 pounds of spacewalk equipment and 75 pounds of computer gear.

In addition, two small "cubesats" will be moved into the station for launch later from the Japanese Kibo module along with three others already on board the lab. Fourteen other cubesats are mounted in a dispenser attached to the cargo ship. They will be launched after departure from the station on Dec. 4.

  • William Harwood

    Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."