NASA control in Houston is breathing easier this morning. The cargo capsule carrying 3,600 pounds of food and equipment is now in the process of being unloaded. Commander Steven Swanson used the robotic arm on the ISS to grab the capsule from orbit and dock it with the space station.
The name of the capsule is in memory of Janice Voss, a five-time astronaut who passed away of breast cancer in 2012. Using an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket, the capsule blasted off on Sunday.
In addition to food, the capsule also comes with new gym gear for the astronauts living aboard the ISS. Equipment includes 28 microsatellites from Planet Labs, who will use the satellites to capture images of Earth everyday. Using the small satellite launcher aboard the ISS, the satellites will be deployed later this summer.
Speaking to reporters before the launch of the capsule, Planet Labs co-founder Robbie Schlinger spoke about the company’s goals. “Our goal is to image the whole Earth every day … and then put it online for people to get access to it.” That’s one way to get bought up by Google or another tech titan. Have access to fresh imaging data daily.
Right now, the company operates 42 small satellites, and is promising to hit 100. This would allow Planet Labs to capture fresh images of the Earth every 24 hours.
As for Orbital Sciences, it still has work to do. It is under contract to deliver 6 more resupply missions to the space station. SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, is also under contract with NASA to start ferrying supplies and experiments to the ISS.
The capsule will remain docked at the space station until mid-August. Once the gear is unpacked, it will be filled with trash and other gear not being used on the ISS. The station will then release it from its berth and it will burn up upon reentry.