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On Friday, May 25, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) made space history when they deftly reached out with the stations robotic arm and grabbed the approaching SpaceX Dragon resupply carrier and then parked the first ever commercial cargo craft at an open port on the massive lab complex while orbiting some 407 kilometers (253 miles) above Earth - check out the gallery here !
Working in tandem, NASA astronaut Don Pettit and ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers snared the Dragon craft as it was drifting in free space about 10 m (32 ft) away with the 18 m (58 ft) long Canadian robot arm at 9:56 a.m. EDT and connected the first privately built capsule to a parking spot on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony Node 2 module on the ISS at 12:02 p.m. EDT on May 25.
Here’s a gallery of images from Andre Kuipers showing the Dragon’s rendezvous, grappling and docking at the million pound Earth orbiting space station currently inhabited by a crew of 6 astronauts and cosmonauts working as a united team from the US, Russia and the Netherlands and representing humanities tenuous foothold at the High Frontier.
All these photos were taken on May 25, 2012 using a Nikon D2Xs.
The crew ‘Entered the Dragon’ for the first time on Saturday, May 26.
Over the next few days, the crew will unload the living provisions, supplies and equipment loaded aboard the Dragon capsule and then refill it with science samples and trash for the return trip to Earth.
Dragon will undock from the ISS on May 31 and splash down hours later off the coast of California in the Pacific Ocean.
And through May 31, you can spot and photograph the Dragon/ISS combo orbiting overhead – read my article here for further details.
Dragon is the world’s first commercial resupply vehicle. It was launched flawlessly atop a SpaceX built Falcon 9 booster on May 22 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.