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Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrives at the International Space Station

A U.S. cargo vessel arrived at the International Space Station on Dec. 9. (Video: NASA)

After chasing the International Space Station for more than two days, a spacecraft that looks like a huge flying barrel caught up with it Wednesday on a resupply mission.

U.S. astronaut Kjell Lindgren used a robotic arm to grapple the unmanned Cygnus spacecraft, carrying more than 7,000 pounds of cargo, at 6:19 a.m. while over the Arabian Sea near the coast of Oman.

Orbital ATK, a Dulles-based company, launched Cygnus into orbit on Sunday evening in its first flight since its rocket exploded in October 2014. The launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket went flawlessly, as did the rendezvous with the space station, officials said.

A NASA spokesman said the Orbital ATK team was “elated” that Cygnus had finally returned to the station, delivering food and science experiments.

“All went very smoothly throughout the morning,” a NASA official said.

Cygnus would stay attached to the station for more than a month, when it will act as a giant space dumpster. Astronauts aboard the station will use it to dispose trash. Eventually it would detach, fly back toward Earth and burn up in the atmosphere.

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