Dragon Berthed to Space Station
The SpaceX Dragon capsule is berthed to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Dragon capsule was berthed to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 12:02 p.m. EDT Friday. This is the first time a commercial spacecraft has visited the International Space Station. The demonstration mission for SpaceX delivered non-critical cargo to the Expedition 31 crew due to its test flight status. Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 at 9:56 a.m. as Flight Engineer Don Pettit, with assistance from Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers, guided the robotic arm from inside the cupola.
The spacecraft conducted a demonstration fly-under 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) beneath the orbital laboratory on Thursday before departing the vicinity. Dragon successfully established UHF communications, tested its relative GPS system and accepted commands from the station during Thursday’s maneuvers resulting in a “go” for Friday’s rendezvous and capture of Dragon.
The cargo ship’s hatches will open Saturday morning and the crew will ingress to begin several days of docked operations. Pettit, Kuipers and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba will talk live on NASA TV at 11:25 a.m. to reporters about the first commercial spaceflight to the station.
On May 31 the Canadarm2 will detach Dragon from the Harmony node then release it. Dragon will then perform a series of engine burns placing it on a trajectory away from the station. Finally, Dragon will conduct a deorbit burn sending it back to Earth through the atmosphere. The Dragon will then splashdown in the Pacific Ocean for recovery about 250 miles off the U.S. west coast.