Orbital Sciences Corp (NYSE:ORB) announced today that it had successfully completed its third cargo mission to the International Space Station in just ten months, the last leaving a fantastic fireball streaking across the sky when it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere today. Of these three flights, the first was an initial demonstration while the following two were operational missions that are part of the company’s $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA that will be comprised of eight missions to be completed in late 2016.

Orbital Sciences

Orbital Sciences: Cyngus and Antares missions

The Orb-2 mission finished up today after the The Cygnus™ spacecraft used to deliver the cargo detached itself from the ISS where it had spent the last 31 days.

“Orbital Sciences’ third cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station concluded with the controlled reentry of Cygnus over the unpopulated expanses of the Pacific Ocean,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Orbital’s Advanced Programs Group. “From start to finish, we are very pleased with the results of this mission. Our team is proud to be providing essential supplies to the ISS crew so they can carry out their vital work in space. With three fully successful cargo delivery missions now complete, it is clear our public-private partnership with NASA is proving to be a positive asset to the productivity of the ISS. We are looking forward to the next Antares launch and the Cygnus cargo delivery mission that is coming up in about two months.”

Weather permitting, that next mission is expected to take place by October 20, 2014.

The mission that finished up today began with the launching of Orbital Sciences Corp (NYSE:ORB)’s Antares™ rocket, which carries the Cygnus spacecraft, on July 13 when it took off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Eastern Virginia. Three days later it delivered its payload of 3,669 pounds (1,664 kilograms) to the ISS docking on July 16. When it left from the ISS is was loaded with 3,550 pounds (1,615 kilograms) of cargo for disposal.

Fireball documented from ISS

The astronauts presently based on the ISS photographically documented the fiery reentry today with some impressive pics with ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst providing social media commentary when he wrote, “In 84 days Reid, Max and I will ride home inside such an amazing fireball! In 84 Tagen werden Reid, Max & ich in solch einem Feuerball nach Hause fliegen!”