Cygnus was released from the ISS in an early morning mission on Feb. 18, NASA reports. The mission began at 5:15 a.m. EST, and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cygnus from the ISS's Harmony Node. Japan Aerospace Exploration, JAXA, astronaut Koichi Wakata monitored the mission and communication with the Mission Control Center in Houston. The undocking mission was completed at 6:41 a.m. EST.
Orbital Science's ISS Commercial Resupply Mission, ORB-1, began on Jan. 9 after a couple of delays, first due to cold weather and a second delay due to space weather caused by an X-class solar flare. The Cygnus spacecraft docked with the ISS on Jan. 12, with Hopkins using the space station's robotic arm to grapple the craft and Wakata attaching it to the Harmony Node. Orbital Sciences' contract with NASA is worth $1.9 billion, according to an Associated Press article. ORB-1 is the first of eight contracted cargo missions.
Cygnus was carrying 2,780 pounds of supplies and scientific instruments, including holiday gifts of fruit, student-designed experiments and several ant farms. The ISS Expedition 38 crew spent several days unloading the cargo and as part of its mission, the spacecraft was loaded with trash. Cygnus will make a destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere with the spacecraft expecting to burn up over the Pacific Ocean, NASA reports.
The next ISS commercial resupply mission is set for March 16. SpaceX will launch its third resupply mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft will carry new supplies, scientific instruments and experiments to the ISS.