Orbital cargo ship makes planned re-entry to Earth

AFP
This picture provided by NASA shows the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket launching with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard on July 13, 2014, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia
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This picture provided by NASA shows the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket launching with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard on July 13, 2014, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia (AFP Photo/Bill Ingalls)

Washington (AFP) - Orbital Sciences Corporation's unmanned Cygnus cargo ship disintegrated as planned Sunday as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere after a month-long resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft had been released from the orbiting lab on Friday at 6:40 am (1040 GMT), and then stayed in independent orbit for two days, before firing its engines and pushing into Earth's atmosphere.

The de-orbit burn had been scheduled to take just under 30 minutes.

The crew on board the space station watched and documented the spacecraft's plasma trail, posting pictures of the comet-like streak to Twitter.

Cygnus launched July 13 and arrived at the ISS three days later, bearing a load of 3,653 pounds (1,657 kilograms) of gear, food and science experiments.

The resupply mission was part of a billion dollar contract with NASA for multiple journeys to the ISS.

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