WASHINGTON – The Dragon cargo ship will spend the next 18 days attached to the International Space Station after its second successful docking on Wednesday (Oct. 10) over the Pacific Ocean.
Space Station commander Sunita Williams lined up the two spacecraft early Wednesday morning in darkness over the Pacific Ocean. Mission specialist Akihiko Hoshide then reached out with the station’s 58-foot-long robotic arm to capture the cargo ship launched by Space Exploration Technologies Inc. from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla, on Sunday.[Get a 10% discount on ARM TechCon 2012 conference passes by using promo code EDIT. Click here to learn about the show and register.]
The resupply mission, designated CRS-1, marks the first time a commercial company has delivered significant amounts of cargo to the space station. SpaceX (Hawthorne, Calif.) became the first private contractor to send a spacecraft to the space station in May.
Unlike the first “berthing” in May, when SpaceX encountered problems with laser radar sensors as it closed in on the orbiting laboratory, Wednesday’s berthing went off without a hitch.
“Capture complete,” Williams informed NASA controllers just before 6 a.m.. Houston time, ahead of schedule.
The Dragon cargo ship approaches the International Space Station. (Source: NASA)
Dragon is delivering about 1,000 pounds of hardware, experiments and other supplies -- including ice cream -- to the space station crew. Dragon's hatch will be opened on Thursday.
Like the space shuttle it was designed to replace, the cargo ship will return about 170 pounds of cargo to Earth when it splashes down off the southern California coast in later this month.Related stories:Slideshow: Remembering Neil Armstrong & ApolloAdam Steltzner, NASA's hipster rocket engineerSlideshow: China and the future of solar power