Success! SpaceX Dragon Docks With Space Station

By  //  March 3, 2013

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Thruster Problem Delays Link-Up By One Day

(ABOVE VIDEO: SpaceVidsNet)

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – SpaceX has done it again.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was successfully captured and bolted to the International Space Station on Sunday morning under an agreement between NASA and SpaceX. (Image courtesy NASA/SpaceX)

Early Sunday morning, the SpaceX Dragon accomplished its goal of maneuvering close enough to allow astronauts aboard the International Space Station to grab the spacecraft with a robotic arm completing a tricky rendezvous procedure.

The mission was delayed a day because of a faulty thruster problem the Dragon encounterd shortly after reaching orbit on Friday.

At about 5:31 a.m. Sunday, the Dragon was within reach and ISS station commander Kevin Ford grabbed the spacecraft with Canadarm robotic device. The Dragon was bolted to the ISS about 8:36 a.m.

“What a fantastic day,” Ford radioed back to Earth. “As they say, it’s not where you start, but where you finish that counts. You guys really finished this one on the mark.”

The Dragon mission, called CRS-2, is the second of 12 unmanned SpaceX cargo flights to the ISS under the auspices of a $1.6 million contract between SpaceX and NASA.

A view from the International Space Station of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is shown as the station’s robotic arm moves Dragon into place for attachment to the space station. (Image courtesy NASA)

The Dragon is carrying more than 1,200 pounds of scientific equipment, spare parts, fresh fruit and supplies for the ISS astronauts, who will open the spacecraft’s hatch  tomorrow and start unloading the cargo.

The SpaceX spacecraft launched Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Pad 40 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Over the course of the Dragon’s 24-day stay at the ISS, the astronauts also will pack cargo aboard the spacecraft for a return flight back to Earth.

It is expected that return flight cargo also will be more than 1,200 pounds including used computer equipment, completed science experiments and laundry.

The established date for Dragon to undock from the ISS and return to Earth is March 25 or so with a splashdown and capsule recovery planned off the coast of Baja California.

Last May, the SpaceX commercial aerospace company successfully demonstrated the capability of using the Dragon to reach the ISS and followed it up with the first official resupply mission to the ISS in October.

SpaceX is the first commercial company to perform a  resupply for NASA to the International Space Station. Manned SpaceX Dragon flights to the ISS could come as early as 2017.


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