March 4, 2013
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Docks With The Space Station
[ Watch the Video: Dragon is Grappled and Attached to International Space Station ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe OnlineTwo days after dealing with thruster issues that briefly delayed its docking with the International Space Station (ISS), the SpaceX Dragon was berthed to the orbiting base shortly before 9am EST Sunday morning.
According to Bloomberg reporter Jesse Hamilton, the unmanned vehicle docked at 8:56am Eastern and will remain at the ISS for 22 days before returning to Earth. It is the second of at least 12 supply missions planned by the Hawthorne, California-based space transport company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Dragon lifted off Friday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but later that day began to experience issues with its thruster pods. According to a Twitter message posted by Musk, the spacecraft´s system was “inhibiting three of four” pods from initializing. Those issues forced the company to delay deployment of Dragon´s solar arrays until they could get at least two of those thrusters back online — which they did before the end of the day.
The capsule contains approximately 2,300 pounds of supplies, parts, and scientific equipment, according to CNET´s William Harwood. Of that, about 178 pounds are food and clothing for the ISS crew, 300 pounds are hardware for the station itself (including replacement parts for a carbon dioxide removal system), and more than 700 pounds are two Glacier freezers, experimental components, and other science gear, he added.
Current ISS crew members Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn used the station´s robotic arm to capture the Dragon spacecraft at 5:31am on Sunday morning, NASA officials reported following the docking.
Before it was allowed to approach the space station, it first had to pass a series of safety tests. It arrived one day following its scheduled arrival, which officials at the US space agency said should not adversely affect any of the experiments which were contained in the vehicle´s payload.
"The newly arrived scientific experiments delivered by Dragon carry the promise of discoveries that benefit Earth and dramatically increase our understanding of how humans adapt to space," William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement.
"Spaceflight will never be risk-free, but it's a critical achievement that we once again have a U.S. capability to transport science to and from the International Space Station,” he added. “The science delivered and to be returned from the space station has the promise of giving us a unique insight into problems that we face on Earth.”