The Space X Dragon capsule has successfully rendezvoused with the International Space Station (ISS), after being maneuvered into position by station’s sophisticated robotic arm.
”Looks like we’ve got us a dragon by the tail,” US astronaut Donald Pettit announced.
Following its capture, the SpaceX Dragon capsule was positioned at the end of the International Space Station’s robotic arm for installation onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.
European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers and Don Pettit were on duty at the robotic work station in the space station’s cupol, while NASA astronaut Joe Acaba stood by to bolt the Dragon onto Harmony via commands he issued from a laptop in the Destiny laboratory. The SpaceX Dragon capsule was securely bolted to the Harmony module at 12:02 p.m. EDT.
With that, the Dragon spacecraft – built by Space X – made history as the first private company to send a spacecraft to the ISS.
The unmanned Dragon is transporting 1,200 pounds of cargo, including commemorative patches and pins, 162 meals and a collection of student experiments to the orbiting station. Most of the cargo’s weight, 674 pounds, is in food and crew provisions, including meals, crew clothing and batteries and other pantry items.
The station crew will unpack the Dragon during the next two weeks, loading the spacecraft with more than 1,400 pounds of used scientific and spacewalking gear. Dragon will then be removed from the station by the arm and released to fly back to Earth.
Unlike the other cargo vehicles that resupply the station, the commercial SpaceX craft is designed to return to Earth safely instead of burning up in the atmosphere. This means experiments and other equipment can be stowed inside the capsule and returned to scientists.