The rendezvous took place at
Once Cygnus approached the orbiting lab, the space station's robotic arm reached out and grabbed the incoming cargo carrier and began the berthing process.
"Basically capturing something that is free - floating in space right next to you going so fast ... with so much at stake, that is the tricky part," said astronaut
The crew used the robotic arm to guide Cygnus to its berthing port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node for the installation process, which began soon thereafter, according to
The rendezvous — the term given to the moment when the arm grasps the capsule — "goes by pretty fast" said Coleman.
"You train and train and you practice and practice and that's what it comes down to."
The mission is the first official re-supply trip for Orbital's cargo ship, coming on the heels of the company's successful demonstration flight and berthing at the ISS in September.
Cygnus is delivering 2,780 pounds (1,260 kilograms) of supplies to the space station, including hardware, food and equipment for science experiments.
The astronauts will use its contents to help conduct studies on everything from ant behavior to antibiotic drug resistance to the physics of liquid motion as it applies to fuel used by rockets, among other research.
The spacecraft will then be packed with disposable items. It will remain at the station until mid-February.
After Cygnus detaches, it will burn up on re-entry to Earth's atmosphere and will disintegrate over the
SpaceX is due to send its Dragon capsule to the ISS shortly afterward, for yet another cargo mission.
Both Orbital and SpaceX have contracts with
Cygnus's berthing at the ISS on Sunday marks the fifth mooring of a private vessel at the space station in two years.
The space lab serves a global science collaborative and was launched in 1998. It had been expected to stay in operation until 2020.
Partnering agencies are
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