Dragon Works Through Glitch To Make History
By Ed Pierce // May 25, 2012
Date With Destiny
BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Space X’s valiant unmanned Dragon spacecraft has made history this morning.
After working to overcome a minor glitch on a final approach to the International Space Station, astronauts have now latched on to the Dragon and it is connected to the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module.
NASA had instructed Dragon to back off slightly to access a senor problem, but the problem was quickly remedied and history made in the process.
The linking marks a new era in spaceflight as Space X has become the first commercial company to ever fly to the ISS.
It also means the United States has an alternative to contracting with Russia to send cargo and crews to the space station following the completion of the 30-year-old space shuttle program last year.
Since being launched Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Dragon performed every test to NASA’s satisfaction, clearing the way for today’s docking with the ISS.
Dragon wrapped up a fly-under of the ISS Thursday from a distance of 1.5 miles and tested several other systems for NASA to receive a green light for today’s link-up.
Systems tested successfully included an aborted mission demonstration, communications, using global positioning navigation, and free-drifting in which Dragon’s thrusters were turned off so the ISS’s robotic arm can latch on to the Dragon.
Space X founder and CEO Elon Musk has been watching the mission closely from the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.
He said his phone has been busy with calls from so many people wishing him well for the success of the mission and offering congratulations that he almost missed one important phone call.
“The President just called to say congrats,” Musk tweeted. “Caller ID was blocked, so at first I thought it was a telemarketer.”