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Commercial shipment arrives at space station, US company delivers food, science

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The International Space Station accepted a fresh delivery of goods Wednesday.

A private cargo ship launched three days ago from Virginia arrived at the orbiting complex a little after 1030 GMT. The station's commander, Steven Swanson, used a giant robot arm to grab onto the Cygnus capsule and its precious load as the craft zoomed 260 miles (418 kilometres) above northern Libya; the vast expanse of sand provided a backdrop.

"I think everybody's breathing again," Mission Control radioed. "We felt like we were up there with you."

Two hours later, the Cygnus was bolted to the space station for a monthlong visit.

It's the third space station shipment for Orbital Sciences Corp. NASA is paying Orbital Sciences as well as the SpaceX company to haul up supplies.

The Cygnus contains more than 3,000 pounds (1360 kilograms) of food, science experiments, mini-satellites and equipment, as well as outfits designed to resist bacteria and odour. The new gym clothes should keep the exercising astronauts smelling a lot better.

Swanson paid tribute to the late astronaut Janice Voss, who once worked for Orbital Sciences and made five space shuttle flights. The company named this newest Cygnus in her honour.

"We now have a seventh crew member," Swanson said. "Welcome aboard the ISS, Janice."

Mission Control also praised Voss, who died of cancer in 2012 at age 55. She never made it to the space station during her shuttle travels.

Once emptied, the capsule will be loaded with trash and set loose in mid-August for a fiery re-entry.

The Virginia-based Orbital Sciences made its first space station delivery last September. The second occurred in January.

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Orbital Sciences: https://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/MissionUpdates/Orb-2/

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