Videos: Dragon Capsule Now Successfully Attached to ISS

by Nancy Atkinson on May 25, 2012

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This day will go down in history as the first time a commercial company has their own spacecraft attached to the International Space Station.

After Don Pettit grappled SpaceX’s Dragon capsule with the CanadArm2, Andre Kuipers later installed the capsule on the nadir port of the station’s Harmony node at 15:02 UTC/11:52 a.m. EDT. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba completed berthing operations by bolting the Dragon to Harmony at 16:02 UTC/12:02 p.m. EDT to the space station Friday.

Congratulations on a wonderful capture,” astronaut Megan Behnken radioed to the station crew from Mission Control. “You’ve made a lot of folks happy down here, over in Hawthorne and right here in Houston. Great job, guys.”

More videos, including the post-docking press conference with a jubilant Elon Musk and his SpaceX team.

“Today marks another critical step in the future of American spaceflight,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Now that a U.S. company has proven its ability to resupply the space station, it opens a new frontier for commercial opportunities in space — and new job creation opportunities right here in the U.S. By handing off space station transportation to the private sector, NASA is freed up to carry out the really hard work of sending astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before.”

The plan is to wait until Saturday to open hatches. The spacecraft is carrying nearly 460 kg (1,150) pounds of equipment and supplies: 674 pounds of food and crew provisions; 46 pounds of science hardware and equipment; 271 pounds of cargo bags needed for future flights; and 22 pounds of computer equipment.

“The crew is pretty excited so don’t be surprised if they want to open the hatches a little early,” said ISS Flight Director Holly Ridings at a press conference.

The schedule has Dragon remaining berthed to the ISS until May 31. The CanadArm2 will unberth the capsule and then release it. Dragon is the only cargo ship designed to return to Earth with experiments and equipment; others ships such as the Russian Progress, the European ATV and the Japanese HTV all burn up in the atmosphere. The Russian Soyuz crew craft can bring home limited equipment.

Screen capture from NASA TV of the SpaceX Dragon capsule berthed to the International Space Station.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Aqua4U May 25, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Breathes a deep sigh of relief and says: It’s been a long time coming but has been well worth the wait! Congratulations Space X!

bugzzz May 25, 2012 at 9:10 PM

I was gonna make a joke that they opened it up and it was filled with a thousand pounds worth of sandwiches, but that’s pretty much the truth. Punchline foiled by reality.

morphics May 25, 2012 at 9:49 PM

This video has been removed, but there is now a full video of the docking available on Nasa’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg5vd_Gs0G4

BallardKaren22 May 26, 2012 at 5:26 PM

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kkt May 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM

Our space capability has progressed from 1960 levels to 1966 levels!

TerryG May 26, 2012 at 12:49 AM

Oh. Did you mean we are back at the dawn of having manned missions beyond low Earth orbit? That’s how I remember 1966

Rob May 25, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Well it looks like the USA now has alternative access to ISS, not just the Russians – and that is great news. SpaceX pulled it off leaving Boeing in their dust. Amazing what a company can do when the leadership sets a challenging goal and allows their people to focus on just getting it done. Elon Musk is the 21st century version of John Kennedy.

Vernon Whetstone May 26, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it “strange” that the capcom and all the mission directors visible on screen for the Space X/ISS capture were women? Strange is not the right word and conveys the wrong meaning but it is the only one I can come up with right now. I think it is great and a great sign of progress. :)

Beck45 May 28, 2012 at 2:29 PM

I’m betting the next flight will have a Pizza hut banner on the side of Dragon. It’s commercial after all, and advertising is good, right? Since apparently we’ve decided it’s okay for pretty much every single place on earth, then why not in space…

Beck45 May 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

With this success under their belt, I’m hoping SpaceX will start doing some really exciting things, like build their own space station. Ferried up in unmanned vehicles and mostly assembled autonomously, it could have hotels, rotating 1-g modules–all of the things we’ve been talking about for 50 years, are 100% feasible, but no one is doing for some reason.

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