SpaceX Dragon brings supplies (and a birthday treat) to the International Space Station
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule successfully attached to the International Space Station early Thursday, a day after aborting its first attempt.
NASA confirmed on its TV service that the capsule, carrying nearly 5,500 pounds of supplies and research materials — as well as a birthday treat for French astronaut Thomas Pesquet — was “captured” by astronauts operating the station’s robotic arm at 2:44 a.m. PST.
NASA spokesman Rob Navias called the Dragon’s approach to the station “flawless.”
“After an aborted rendezvous attempt on Wednesday, today was smooth sailing all the way along,” he said on NASA-TV.
SpaceX, which is based in Hawthorne and whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp., launched the capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday.
The Dragon began approaching the space station early Wednesday but automatically aborted the docking procedure when computers on board the capsule detected an incorrect value in its GPS equipment, leaving the computers unsure about the craft’s position. The capsule was then sent on a flight around the station and set to make another attempt Thursday.
A few hours after crew members at the space station used the robotic arm to capture the Dragon and hold it in place, the capsule was physically attached to the station, according to NASA’s live TV coverage.
The capsule’s hatch is scheduled to be opened Thursday afternoon. The capsule will spend about four weeks attached to the station before returning to Earth, according to NASA.
In addition to supplies, the Dragon holds several research experiments that are difficult to carry out from Earth, including one that will grow biological proteins in crystals and one that will look at tissue regeneration.
There was a surprise on board as well: French macarons. Paris-based patisserie Pierre Herme said it developed and sent them for Pesquet, whose birthday is Monday — he will turn 39 in space.
Pesquet, an astronaut with the European Space Agency, formerly worked as an aerospace engineer and is also an airline pilot for Air France. He is on a six-month mission to the International Space Station and is scheduled to return to Earth in May.
9:45 a.m.: This article was updated to add that the Dragon capsule was carrying macarons for an astronaut’s birthday.
This article was originally published at 8:50 a.m.
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