Science

SpaceX Dragon arrives at ISS

DPA Washington | Updated on March 12, 2018

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (Image Credit: NASA TV)   -  NASA

Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson (partially obscured) install a new circuit board inside a spare multiplexer-demultiplexer aboard the International Space Station. (Image Credit: NASA TV)   -  NASA

The private cargo carrier Dragon docked on Sunday at the International Space Station (ISS) after a delay of more than a month caused by launch glitches.

The six astronauts aboard the ISS were delighted with Easter delivery of the vital cargo.

“Gentlemen, the Easter Dragon is knocking on the door,” a NASA ground control spokesman joked after the spaceship successfully executed the docking manoeuvre.

SpaceX Dragon, which finally launched Friday from Cape Canaveral, arrived without incident at 1406 GMT. NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and ISS mission commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency used the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of Dragon and attached it to the space station.

Dragon’s 2.5 tons of cargo includes a new spacesuit, food and material for 150 experiments.

On its way into space, the Falcon 9 rocket released five small satellites — 25 by 25 centimetres in size — that are part of NASA’s educational programme to lure more students into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

This is Dragon’s third flight to the ISS. NASA’s $1.6 billion contract with SpaceX calls for at least 12 Dragon flights by 2016.

NASA turned to the private sector in 2011 after it closed down the aging shuttle programme that was the construction workhorse for the station. Russia and Japan also operate cargo deliveries to the ISS.

Russia’s space programme provides the only current transport for astronauts to the station, which orbits about 400 kilometres above Earth’s surface.

Mastracchio and Steve Swanson on Wednesday are to undertake a spacewalk to replace a key computer link that controls the external cooling system.

Published on April 21, 2014

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