The SpaceX 3 Dragon commercial cargo freighter successfully arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Easter Sunday morning, April 20, as planned and was deftly captured by Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata at 7:15 a.m. EDT at the controls of the Canadian built robotic arm.
Berthing was officially completed at 10:06 a.m. EDT while the massive complex was soaring 260 miles above Brazil.
The Dragon vehicle loaded with nearly 2.5 tons of science experiments and supplies moved ever so slowly closely to within grappling distance – dramatically backdropped with gorgeous and ever changing scenery of our Home Planet sliding below.
Dragon was approximately 30 feet (10 meters) away from the stations hull at the time of capture.
Wakata, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was assisted by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, while both were working from inside the 7 windowed Cupola robotics work station. Newly arrived NASA astronaut Steve Swanson observed the proceedings with a big smile.
“Congratulations to the entire ops team for the successful launch, rendezvous and capture of Dragon, ” Wakata radioed mission control moments after the successful grapple.
Cheers and celebrations erupted at SpaceX Mission Control at the firms headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.
Dragon arrived this morning following Friday afternoons, Apr 18, spectacular blastoff from Cape Canaveral, Fla, atop an upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.
A two day orbital chase ensued with a series of critical engine burns targeting the ISS for Easter Sunday’s rendezvous and docking activities.
Rick Mastracchio was at the controls for the actual berthing and latching in place at Harmony with Dragon’s Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM).
The berthing process started at about 9:30 a.m. EDT.
4 latches were driven for 1st stage of capture. Followed by all 16 bolts and latches in total during second stage capture to firmly hold Dragon in place.
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NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services: A New Era in Spaceflight - History of International Space Station (ISS) Cargo and Crew, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Bigelow
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