Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo ship departs space station to begin new mission in orbit

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo satellite successfully unlanded from the International Space Station Tuesday, June 29 at 12:25 p.m. ET (1625 GMT), four months after its arrival in orbit.NASA TV aired the undocking live, which saw the spacecraft depart from its orbital outpost at the right time. This allowed the craft to launch a secondary mission, before it was due for fiery death.Ground controllers remote unbolted Cygnus at its station port and moved it to its release position. The robotic arm of the space station was used to undock the spacecraft before it was sent on its way. Megan McArthur, a NASA astronaut, watched the departure from the station.Related: Wow! Spacewalk: NASA spotting space station crossing the sun (video)Officially called the S.S. Katherine Johnson cargo vessel, the Cygnus NG-15 cargo ship launched on February 20, 2021 and docked at the orbital outpost two day later. More than 8,200 pounds were contained within. (3) 3,700 kgs of crew supplies and research experiments.Cygnus cargo vessels, which are typically waste disposal receptacles for Cygnus, are usually used as such. This particular vessel is no exception. Thomas Pesquet, an astronaut from the European Space Agency, loaded the Cygnus' trash onto the hatch on Monday 28 June. The Cygnus, along with all its trash, will burn up as it leaves the space station.The S.S. Katherine Johnson launched five small cubesats shortly after leaving the space station. NASA officials posted in a blog that the Ionosphere Thermosphere Scanning Photometer to Ion-Neutral studies (IT-SPINS), will be studying the ionosphere. The MYSAT-2 satellite will aid students in their engineering training, and the MYSAT-3 satellite will provide information about the upper atmosphere.After the Cygnus has deployed all five CubeSats it will return to Earth. It will burn up as it descends through space and time.Follow Amy Thompson @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @Spacedotcom