Global aerospace group Orbital ATK has concluded Nasa’s fifth cargo resupply mission with the re-entry of its Cygnus spacecraft into Earth’s atmosphere after delivering cargos to the International Space Station (ISS).

Cygnus performed a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand upon returning to Earth.

Under a deal with Nasa’s commercial resupply services-1 (CRS-1) contract, Orbital ATK sent around 3,600kg of cargo in March to the ISS from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

Known as OA-6, the latest mission is Orbital ATK’s second CRS-1 contract of the year and was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

"Orbital ATK sent around 3,600kg of cargo in March to the ISS from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US."

Orbital ATK space systems group president Frank Culbertson said: "Throughout the OA-6 mission, we were able to demonstrate the versatility and value of our Cygnus spacecraft, from its launch on an Atlas rocket to the flawless delivery of the largest load of pressurised cargo in the CRS programme’s history and to its ability to serve as a platform for in-space research."

After completing an 81-day stay at the ISS, Cygnus has brought around 1,854kg of items back to Earth for disposal.

During the OA-6 mission, the Cygnus also performed three post-departure missions, which involve the Spacecraft Fire Experiment-I (Saffire-I), the deployment of CubeSat satellites from the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer, and the Reentry Breakup Recorder with Wireless Sensors (REBR-W) test.

Saffire-I technology demonstration took place onboard Cygnus. Designed by Nasa’s Glenn Research Center, the demonstration conducted a series of tests to study the behaviour of large-scale fires in microgravity.

The second in-orbit scientific mission conducted on Cygnus involves the deployment of four of five CubeSats via a NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer.

The third and final experiment of the OA-6 mission occured during Cygnus’ re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Astronauts installed the REBR-W on Cygnus prior to its departure from the ISS in order to better understand spacecraft behaviour during atmospheric re-entry and breakup.

Nasa is aiming the next ISS cargo resupply mission, which will be conducted by SpaceX, next month.