Cape Canaveral, Fla. • Christmas has finally arrived for the six space station astronauts.
A privately launched supply ship arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday morning, three days after blasting off from Virginia. The space station crew used a 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, including ants for an educational project. Also on board: eagerly awaited Christmas presents for all six astronauts.
Orbital Sciences Corp. was supposed to make the delivery last month, well before Christmas. But the company had to wait a month because a space station breakdown in mid-December took priority, and NASA bumped the flight to January to repair the disabled cooling system at the orbiting outpost. Launch controllers broke into applause once robot arm operator Michael Hopkins grabbed onto the Cygnus, more than 260 miles above the Indian Ocean. 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, there was no telling whether they would oblige.
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