ON the 12th of November, a day later than planned due to weather conditions, Orbital ATK launched Cygnus CRS OA 8E to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of its commercial resupply services contract with NASA.
The launch was conducted from Wallops Island in Virginia and carried its 3,350 Kg payload all the way into orbit. It is currently doing a transfer maneuver to the space station where it will stay for approximately a month. This will allow the astronauts at ISS to unload the experiments (specifically, one for TangoLab where the capsule will be used as an extension of the facility) and the perishables it brought them. After detachment, 14 cubesats will be released before the capsule re-enters the atmosphere and burns up over the Pacific.
For the astronauts, this resupply mission has an importance beyond the experiments as it will deliver them fresh food. On the ISS, they don’t use a fridge to store food, as everything that sent to them is designed to stay edible at room temperature.
However, this means that astronauts are always eating rehydrated food which has a rather unappealing texture. These resupply missions are the only times they get to eat an actual apple. The fresh food is only edible for a few days but it’s long gone before then. This greatly improves the morale.
This also is when each astronaut can get a tiny bit of space for their personal orders. Many of them will get a bit of food from home, maple syrup or their favourite sauce but sometimes it’s a gorilla suit.
We hope that the experiments on board will lead to future discoveries and wish the astronauts good luck and happy fresh meals.