The long-awaited Orbital cargo ship, following an October 2014 launch accident, arrives at the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The Orbital ATK cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station on Wednesday (December 09) after blasting off on an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida on Sunday (December 6) with needed supplies. The mission reopens one of two U.S. supply lines to the station, a $100 billion research laboratory circling 250 miles (400 km) above Earth. Both cargo lines had been shut down by failed rocket launches. Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital, an aerospace and defense company with annual revenues of about $4.4 billion, hopes to return its own Antares rocket to flight in May, following an October 2014 launch accident. Meanwhile, Orbital bought two Atlas rocket rides from ULA to resume work under its $1.9 billion NASA contract. NASA's second supply line, operated by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, is aiming to return its Falcon 9 rocket to flight this month following a botched station cargo run in June. Both companies hope to win follow-on station resupply contracts from the U.S. space agency in January. They face competition from privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp, which is offering a robotic version of a small shuttle-like space plane called Dream Chaser. Boeing was eliminated from the competition last month. With the arrival of its Cygnus capsule at the station, Orbital hopes to make up for lost time. The upgraded capsule, is loaded with more than 7,700 pounds (3,500 kg) of food, clothing, computer gear, spacewalk equipment, science experiments and other supplies. Cygnus is the first U.S. ship to reach the station since April, though Russia and Japan also fly freighters. Europe flew its fifth and final ATV cargo capsule in August. The two U.S. launch accidents, plus a failed Russian cargo run in April, have left the station's storage bins a bit empty. NASA aims to keep a six-month supply of food aboard and is currently down to a four-month cushion. Toilet supplies run out in February, said station program manager Kirk Shireman.