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Cargo Craft Throughout the Years

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Cargo Craft Throughout the Years

The first Cygnus Spacecraft to visit the International Space Station (ISS), the G. David Low, departed the station at 7:31 AM EST on October 22, 2013. The Cygnus spacecraft is the latest in a long line of cargo vehicles built to resupply the orbital outposts that humanity has positioned in the heavens. Created by Orbital Sciences Corporation of Virginia, it is the second type of vehicle built by a commercial company to visit the ISS.

As the Soviet long-duration space station missions grew in complexity in the late 1970s designers needed a way to supply the outpost with the resources needed for both man and machine. The crewed Soyuz craft of the time could only accommodate two suited Cosmonauts with room for little else. For enhanced operations on the Salyut 6 space station, the Soviets modified the Soyuz vehicle to serve as an automated cargo truck. Designated as “Progress” when first launched in 1978, the new vehicle was designed to replenish on-orbit supplies of oxygen, food, water, and fuel to reboost the station to maintain altitude. The Progress design has been modified a number of times, and is currently in use for the International Space Station.

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