Cygnus Orb-D1


Cygnus Orb-D1
Cygnus Orb-D1.1.jpg
Cygnus Orb-D1 spacecraft, photographed from ISS
Mission typeTechnology demonstration
ISS resupply
OperatorOrbital Sciences
COSPAR ID2013-051A
SATCAT no.39258
Mission duration35 days, 3 hours, 17 minutes
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftCygnus 1
Spacecraft typeStandard Cygnus[1]
ManufacturerOrbital Sciences
Thales Alenia Space
Launch mass4,127 kg (9,098 lb)[2]
Payload mass700 kg (1,543 lb)[3]
Start of mission
Launch date18 September 2013, 14:58:02.2 (2013-09-18UTC14:58:02) UTC[4]
RocketAntares 110[1]
Launch siteMARS LP-0A
ContractorOrbital Sciences
End of mission
Decay date23 October 2013, 18:16 (2013-10-23UTC18:17) UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude419 km (260 mi)[5]
Apogee altitude426 km (265 mi)[5]
Inclination51.65 degrees[5]
Period92.90 minutes[5]
Epoch30 September 2013, 11:55:32 UTC[5]
Berthing at International Space Station
Berthing portHarmony nadir
RMS capture29 September 2013, 11:00 UTC
Berthing date29 September 2013, 12:44 UTC
Unberthing date22 October 2013, 10:04 UTC
RMS release22 October 2013, 11:31 UTC
Time berthed22 days, 21 hours, 20 minutes
Orb-D1 mission emblem.png  

Cygnus Orb-D1, also known as Cygnus 1 and Orbital Sciences COTS Demo Flight,[6][7] was the first flight of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation. It was named after the late NASA astronaut and Orbital Sciences executive G. David Low. The flight was carried out by Orbital Sciences under contract to NASA as Cygnus' demonstration mission in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The mission launched on September 18th, 2013 at 10:58 AM. Cygnus was the seventh type of spacecraft to visit the ISS, after the crewed Soyuz and Space Shuttle, and uncrewed Progress, ATV, HTV and Dragon 1.


The Orb-D1 mission was the first flight of the Cygnus spacecraft and used the standard configuration with a Pressurized Cargo Module.[8]

Orbital named this mission's Cygnus spacecraft the G. David Low after the former NASA astronaut and Orbital employee who died of cancer on 15 March 2008.[9][10] During a media briefing for the CRS Orb-1 mission, Orbital Sciences executive vice president Frank Culbertson stated, "We were very proud to name that [Cygnus] the G. David Low."[11]

Launch and early operations

Cygnus Orb-D1 was launched by an Antares 110 rocket flying from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The launch took place at 14:58:02.2 UTC on 18 September 2013,[4] and successfully inserted the Cygnus into low Earth orbit. The launch marked the second flight of the Antares rocket and the final flight of the interim Antares 110 configuration.[12]

ISS rendezvous

Rendezvous with the ISS was originally scheduled for the fourth day of the mission. However, the rendezvous was postponed due to a computer data link problem.[13] The exact error related to small discrepancies between the way the ISS and Cygnus each use GPS for timekeeping purposes.[14] A further delay was necessary to allow for the arrival of Soyuz TMA-10M with three new ISS crew members.[15]

A week late, the spacecraft conducted a series of navigation, control and safety tests as it approached the station. Following the successful completion of ten test objectives, the spacecraft was cleared to make its final approach, holding 12 metres (39 ft) below the ISS. Then, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano grappled it at 7 a.m. EDT (GMT-4), 29 September 2013, using the Canadarm2 remote manipulator system[7] as the two spacecraft sailed high above the Indian Ocean.[16] Cygnus was berthed to the nadir port of the station's Harmony node.[7]


Cygnus carried 700 kg (1,543 lb) of cargo to the ISS, including food and spare parts.[3] After unloading, the spacecraft was loaded with 1,290 kg (2,850 lb) of cargo for disposal.[17]

End of mission

On 22 October the Canadarm2 was used to unberth the Cygnus spacecraft from the nadir port of the Harmony module at 10:04 UTC. The spacecraft was then maneuvered to a release position below the station, where it was released from the RMS at 11:31 UTC. It then performed a series of separation maneuvers away from the station. The spacecraft fired its main engine to de-orbit itself on 23 October at 17:41 UTC, with reentry and burning up in the atmosphere over the southern Pacific Ocean occurring at 18:16 UTC.[18][19]



  1. ^ a b Bergin, Chris (22 February 2012). "Space industry giants Orbital upbeat ahead of Antares debut". NASA Spaceflight. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Cygnus launch cargo". Spaceflight Now. 14 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Antares - Cygnus Orb-D Launch". Spaceflight 101. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e "CYGNUS Satellite details 2013-047A NORAD 39258". N2YO. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Worldwide Launch Schedule". Spaceflight Now. 3 October 2012. Archived from the original on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  7. ^ a b c "COTS Orb-D1 Mission: Mission Description" (PDF). Orbital Sciences. 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Cygnus Spacecraft: Cygnus Overview" (PDF). Orbital Sciences. 14 September 2013.
  9. ^ Harwood, William (29 September 2013). "Cygnus cargo ship captured by International Space Station". CBS News. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  10. ^ Holley, Joe (20 March 2008). "G. David Low, 52: Cerebral Astronaut Flew on 3 Shuttles". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  11. ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (9 December 2013). "Orbital names next space station freighter for late pilot-astronaut". CollectSpace. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Cygnus Orb-D1 Mission Status Center". Spaceflight Now. 18 September 2013.
  13. ^ Dunn, Marsha (22 September 2013). "Computer mishap delays space station supply ship Cygnus". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  14. ^ Bergin, Chris; Harding, Pete (21 September 2013). "Cygnus delays ISS berthing following GPS discrepancy". NASA Spaceflight. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  15. ^ Kramer, Miriam (23 September 2013). "Cygnus spacecraft's arrival at space station delayed by incoming crew". NBC News. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  16. ^ Hardwood, William (29 September 2013). "Cygnus cargo ship captured by International Space Station". CBS News. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  17. ^ Clark, Stephen (22 October 2013). "Cygnus completes maiden visit to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  18. ^ "Canadarm2 Releases Cygnus After Successful Demonstration Mission". 22 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  19. ^ Beneski, Barron (23 October 2013). "Orbital Completes COTS Demonstration Mission to International Space Station" (Press release). Orbital Sciences. Retrieved 24 October 2013.

External links

  • Orb-D1 mission page at
  • Orb-D1 mission page at Spaceflight Now
  • Video of the launch of Orb-D1
  • Video of Cygnus being berthed to the ISS
  • Video of the hatch to Cygnus being opened
  • Video of the hatch to Cygnus being closed
  • Video of Cygnus departing from the ISS