Station Astronauts Enter the Dragon – First Private Capsule at ISS


For the first time in history space station astronauts have ‘Entered the Dragon’ .. The 1st Private Capsule in Space !

The hatches between the newly arrived Dragon private capsule and the International Space Station’s Harmony Node 2 module were opened at 5:53 a.m. EDT (0953 GMT) today, Saturday, May 26 as the massive complex was flying 407 kilometers (253 miles) over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, just west of Auckland.

NASA astronaut Don Pettit had the honors of opening the hatch to the history making first commercial spacecraft to dock at the ISS and begin a busy few days of unloading gear and supplies.

Clearly the crew was eager for the momentous moment because Pettit and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Station Commander floated into Dragon nearly two hours ahead of schedule for the initial inspections.

NASA Astronuat Don Pettit opens hatch to Dragon from Harmony node module on May 26, 2012

Dragon is the first private spacecraft ever to journey and connect to the International Space Station and marked a milestone event in space history when it arrived yesterday morning on May 25. Dragon is the world’s first commercial resupply vehicle and was built by SpaceX Corporation based in Hawthorne, Calif., founded by CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk.

Dragon berthed at the International Space Station. NASA TV

As a routine precaution to guard against possible contamination and floating debris, Pettit and Kononenko wore protective eye goggles and dust masks over their mouths as they floated and somersaulted playfully through the hatch and all looked in ship shape. They took off the protective gear about 20 minutes later after the air had been well mixed and receiving the all clear from Houston Mission Control.

“There was no sign of any kind of FOD (foreign object debris) floating around in the atmosphere inside,” Pettit reported to Houston upon entering the Dragon. “It kind of reminds me of the cargo capability that I could put in the back of my pickup truck, and the smell inside smells like a brand new car.”

NASA Astronaut Don Pettit inside Dragon on May 26, 2012

Barely 21 hours ago yesterday morning Pettit snared the Dragon as it was drifting free in space about 10 meters (30 ft) away using the stations 18 m (58 ft) long Canadian-built robotic arm. ESA Astronaut Andre Kuiper then parked Dragon at an open port on the Harmony node. The arm will remain grappled to Dragon throughout most of its docked time.

Docked Dragon viewed from the Cupola Observation Dome aboard ISS. NASA TV
It will take about 20 to 25 hours to unload the cargo on Dragon over the next few days before it is scheduled to undock and depart on May 31.

Dragon is a resupply ship meant to replace some of the cargo duties – both up mass and down mass – fully lost with the forced retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet last year. It is the first American built spacecraft of any kind to visit the ISS since the departure of the final Shuttle mission STS-135 in July 2011.

Dragon grappled with Earth backdrop. NASA TV

The Dragon was packed with 460 kilograms (1014 lbs) of non-critical cargo including 306 kg (674 lbs) of food and crew provisions; 21 kg (46 lbs)of science experiment; 123 kg (271 lbs) prepositioned cargo bags to be used for future flights; and 10 kg (22 lbs) of assorted computer supplies and a laptop.

The vehicle will be refilled with more than 1400 pounds of science samples, trash and unneeded gear for the trip back home. Dragon is the only ISS cargo resupply vessel that has any significant return to Earth capability since it is equipped with parachutes and a heat shield, unlike the ATV, HTV and Cygnus which burn up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

“Dragon is really the main means of carrying cargo back from the space station,” said Elon Musk at a post docking media briefing.

First look inside the Dragon spacecraft, currently attached to the International Space Station. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is under contract with NASA to conduct a dozen Falcon 9/Dragon resupply missions to carry about 44,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS at a cost of some $1.6 Billion over the next few years.

The first operational Dragon resupply mission to the ISS could launch as soon as September.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket clears the tower after liftoff at 3:44 a.m. on May 22, 2012 from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.,on the first commercial mission to loft the Dragon cargo resupply vehicle to the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/

The Dragon was blasted to space atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Cape Canaveral, Florida on this historic test flight on May 22, 2012 and linked up with the ISS on Flight Day 4 on May 25.

Ken Kremer

69 Replies to “Station Astronauts Enter the Dragon – First Private Capsule at ISS”

  1. What no Nay Sayers or conspiracy theorists today, got nothing to say? Thank you.

    Congrats to SpaceX and NASA on a job well done. Wishing the best and brightest future together.

    1. Yep. The strategy of combining COTS 2 and 3 has saved time, an LV and a bunch of dollars.
      Good work SpaceX.

      1. my co-worker’s sister got paid $21912 the previous week. she gets paid on the internet and got a $416800 house. All she did was get fortunate and put into action the steps given on this link===>> ??????

    2. Good to see such blind faith in a somewhat dubious endeavour. There are so many sideline issues with the success or failure of Spacex, that it cannot be said that its future is the right direction or not. Whilst commercial may appeal to Corporate America, the rest of the world will ardently disagree with the greedy opportunism. The risk of commercial space flight comes down to liability. Liability if something goes wrong, liability if their is an accident. Were an accident occurred in LEO to make it inaccessible to humanity, who is going to be ultimately responsible? One little mistake, one slip up, and the lawsuit via the international community would be incalculably damaging.

      The other real problem of Spacex is that exploration by other governments in collaboration are greatly hindered with commercial operations. Utmost in their minds is that space exploration should use the resources beyond the Earth for humanity’s benefit, an not necessarily on motives of a country’s ambitions nor the profit motive of a few.
      I see two important options here. Either other nations collaborate together and exclude commercial spaceflight by economic means or the collaborations of other government simply take over such companies via the stockmarket or investment capital.

      As for Mastercope’s provocative statement here, his words are obviously merely to suppress alternative points of view and attempt to avoid to have a reasonable considered discussion. Clearly he hasn’t considered if SpaceX fails commercially, and where their is the America space program one day just grind to a holt. If this happens, then the other nations of world (like the ESA, Russia, India or China) will advance even further and leave the lagging USA behind.

      I still think America may deeply regret the direction that it is currently moving towards. It is so sad to see that the final frontier and saving the Earth from the ravages of humanity’s abuse over past centuries pinning its hopes of commercial or corporate enterprises – who as history has shown us – promotes only itself and is selfish motivations of profit.

      1. Elon Musk had created an entire industry – designed, manufactured, tested and deployed entire new rocket systems for about the price of ONE Shuttle Launch. This is NOT what I would call a decision to ‘regret’

      2. Be careful with this. Wait until he can show of if he can repeat this over and over again. One mishap and it could put SpaceX out if business.

        This is a “commercial” company. Commercial companies live on profit.

      3. “Commercial companies live on profit”

        Of course, but there is no blatant profiteering here. NASA and SpaceX are willing buyer and willing seller of services at an agreed fixed price for achieved outcomes only.

        Further NASA has stated the price is cheaper (and service available faster) than could achieved with a NASA in-house developed system.

        Further such profits are to being ploughed back into development of the Falcon Heavy, the Launch Abort System, the Fly-back-to-base system for recovering spent stages, the F9 v1.1 engines and other innovations etc….

        Further Orbital Sciences Corp. should fly their ISS cargo ship later this year, so competition has been a factor in setting the price point.

        Further, maximizing profit comes from eliminating wasted time and materials (such as not having COTS 2 and 3 on separate flights) which suits everyone.

        All good news, especially for the tax payer.

        Now if only this attitude would catch on with the traditional cost-plus contractors…

        Have a happy day.

      4. I think that in the future when commercial rocket companies become common place that the same contractors working for NASA will be working for those companies. (I speak from experience, I am a contractor myself)

        I also expect an upcoming patent war.

        And I also expect that once the company grows, you will get Indian service call centres. Maybe the parts will be made in China.

      5. Quite the ‘gloomy Gus’. Oh – and China? When Elon announced the plans for his Falcon-9 Heavy, the huge lift capacity and the unbelievably low cost,you know what the Chinese said? “That’s impossible”.

        You can’t make this stuff with $1/day laborers.

      6. In-terms of spaceflight technologies, any piece of space-x is more that likely ITAR restricted out the wazoo along with all the restrictions relating to distribution of parts and technologies that could be used for the construction of an ICBM,
        in short, because the technology is operated and built in the US, and its a huge ICBM like rocket that can fly to the ISS,
        space x would need the permission of the us govt and its treaty allies to sell and distribute the technology.
        To put this in context, if you jumped the fence to give the rocket a hug you would probably be shot, chewed on by dog or two, then dragged to a federal holding cell, water boarded by special forces, then charged with some form of terrorism because it that kind of “commercial” product.
        one does simply sell rocket ships on this planet you sell rocket ship rides.

      7. Never all parts are in house thats how SpaceX controls cost’s.
        Patent wars what is your thought’s, what war. the Rockets are all designed by Elon mostly, and this guy is not dumb, Elon is surrounded by some of the best in the industry, former NASA Astronauts and backing by the very best in the business, There are others too, Bigelow is now with SpaceX . All I ask is do your homework here before putting down a good thing.

      8. Surely, failure is a possibility, that is what insurance is for. Contingency plans, and so forth. Go to SpaceX site read and look at their launch manifest. this is just the beginning. SpaceX is now in corroboration with Bigelow Aerospace surely you know who and what they are!

      9. It is easy to disagree with exactly all claims made here, maybe because they seem to reflect some spaced out [sic!] political agenda.

        – Is Mastercope provocative? Only in trolling SpaceX hate bois, and this is the day to do it.
        – Will the rest of the world “ardently” disagree with commercialism? Most will not, since the world is based on it.
        – Are commercial companies liable? Yes, to third man, stock holders – exactly like NASA is liable to third man, voters.
        – Is exploration hindered by commercial operations? On Earth they are supported by them, say Antarctic tourist trade supplying the exploration bases more cheaply. The same should go for space, say Bigelow hotels unloading tourists that today may take up ISS resources.
        – Will a SpaceX failure halt exploration? No, there will be several cargo and personel transport services.

        Fractal fail. The problem is letting an unrealistic political agenda (anti-commercialism?) hijack a mind and use it for “naysay and cosnpiracy theory”.

      10. The core problem here is if companies can show or follow altruism. The point is that companies do not behave this way.

        My statement is not anyway anti-commercialism but a view on how we approach possible access or use of resources beyond the Earth. Two examples of changes in US policy regarding space have not be thought through – having implications for the international community. I.e. Examples are in recent UT stories like James Cameron and a corporation of support for mining asteroids or NASA’s claims over US spacecraft components still on the moon.

        Clearly US companies / government do not think the same way as international community, and the present extreme preoccupation of making territorial or legalistic claims in space are not being well received at all. Frankly, the continued attempts of the commercialisation of space could be perceived by others, especially China, as provocative actions to promote open confrontation.

        Such ideas are dangerous, and as pointed out before, it would take an attack on only a few orbiting satellites in LEO to make that region inaccessible to everyone. (Imagine a possible future terrorist attack, say by, Iran on LEO satellites! It would stop launches for decades.)

        We do need strong governments negotiating together to make space exploration to be carefully planned and executed with the minimum of risk to space environment. With the added loose cannon of commercialism who are not necessarily restrained as government, is an enormous risk. Is it worth allowing future commercialisation of space without having rigid laws rules, balances and checks – protecting the best interests of everyone? At the moment, all we have as a protection is the Outer Space Treaty, which has so many holes in it that it is next to useless regarding governance of space.

        Such approach is logical and sensible, as is far from being as a “naysayer or conspiracy theory.”

        (I hope this discussion is not deleted as it was in some of the previous UT stories regarding Spacex.)

      11. I was first sceptic about the mining of asteroids like some kind of money grabbing scheme. But I heard the complete explanation and it is basically a goal to test new technologies. those technologies can then be sold.

        If I were a commercial company then I would aim for the Apollo landing sites and land and retrieve the Apollo artefacts there so I can sell it for big buck to collectors. Who is going to stop me?

        In addition as a commercial company I can also sell my rockets and technology to other countries. Maybe Saudi Arabia.

        Launch restrictions. Nothing prevents a commercial company to launch 100 rockets at will with any content they like if they launch it from a none-USA location. Commercial companies do not care what the payload is, as long as the client pays.

        Commercial companies doe not have to stay at American soil. You just outsource the building of the rocket to a cheaper country and have the service operators in India. Maybe develop the software in India too. Once those rockets are built outside the US, the government loses control over that company.

        Or the commercial company gets sold to a Chinese investor. Remember IBM?

        I do agree that commercial is a future destination, but don’t fall for the hype that commercial automatically means good.

      12. The worst thing for any country is the beginning of protectionism.

        For a 100 years people from Asia have bought high-tech stuff from Europe and America , and now that they can build high-tech themselves , what is the problem for Americans to buy stuff made outside of the USA ? As long as the products are of good quality they will obviously sell.

        Speaking about IBM they sold the PC business because it was loss-making and too much of a waste for them. They now focus on making world-class software and they still make some great Servers – where the real money is.

        “Don’t fall for the hype that commercial automatically means good” . We have had decades of government sponsored mediocrity and pork-barrel politics when it comes to human spaceflight in NASA.
        The best thing is for NASA to have some real competition and thats exactly what SpaceX and others are providing because unlike NASA if they don’t perform then they perish.

      13. The worst thing for any country is the beginning of protectionism.

        For a 100 years people from Asia have bought high-tech stuff from Europe and America , and now that they can build high-tech themselves , what is the problem for Americans to buy stuff made outside of the USA ? As long as the products are of good quality they will obviously sell.

        Speaking about IBM they sold the PC business because it was loss-making and too much of a waste for them. They now focus on making world-class software and they still make some great Servers – where the real money is.

        “Don’t fall for the hype that commercial automatically means good” . We have had decades of government sponsored mediocrity and pork-barrel politics when it comes to human spaceflight in NASA.
        The best thing is for NASA to have some real competition and thats exactly what SpaceX and others are providing because unlike NASA if they don’t perform then they perish.

      14. “Whilst commercial may appeal to Corporate America, the rest of the world will ardently disagree with the greedy opportunism.”

        Where were they for the first *commercial* communications satellites?

        Oh, wait. Some parts of ‘the rest of the world’ build those, launch those (Indeed, the US hasn’t been the leader in number commercial launches for some time now) and *use* those kinds of commercial satellites.

        And none of them done for free, either.

        What suddenly makes it so different now…?

        “As for Mastercope’s provocative statement here, his words are obviously merely to suppress alternative points of view and attempt to avoid to have a reasonable considered discussion.”

        Provocative? Suppressed? Please…

        “I see two only important international options here to counter this as a threat. Either other nations collaborate together and simply exclude commercial spaceflight by economic means. ”

        Yes, all the European, Russian and Chinese commercial satellite launch providers are welcome to shoot themselves in the foot…

        “Clearly he hasn’t considered if SpaceX did fail commercially (or other aerospace companies)…”

        Yes, the United Launch Alliance, with their long-operational Atlases and Deltas will be more than happy to take up the slack, s would non-US launch providers. Most SpaceX business will *not* be Dragon, after all.

        You write as if commercial space launch was invented by the US last week, and that no one else is doing it. Both are demonstrably untrue.

        Sorry, you just do not know what you’re talking about.

      15. Your ‘case’ disregards and contradicts decades-old facts and history. There is nothing more to say to that.

      16. Stifle really, I seem to remember this story is about SpaceX so what am I stifling,,

      17. As I said… The core problem here is if companies can show or follow altruism. The point is that companies do not behave this way.

      18. Maybe the Companies were you live or have dealt with, Here is a thought, maybe we got a first.

      19. Yeah, just the American reality.

        All I said was “The core problem here is if companies can show or follow altruism.”

        or is it profit based only?

    3. No one is saying Nay. We are just warning for the hype.
      SpaceX is wait too much over-hyped right now that people expect them to do miracles.

      It is very interesting what SpaceX does, just like SpaceShipOne did.

      It is very logical that commercial companies are heading for space. Near space is filled with commercial satellites. But these companies are not interested in space exploration, they only are interested in earning money. They only go where the profit goes,and have no shame to drop their ideologies for the money. Remember Google, when it was small: “Do not evil”?

      1. Do we go to work for free, no we earn a check same thing here. Go to various sites , maybe even the SpaceX site,,, the collective mantra of SpaceX is to make Earth a multi-planetary species, we are pretty much mucking it up here. Not to mention a rock or any other disaster. Future speak, yes but you cant win the lottery if you don’t play. Be positive folks something wonderful is happening.

      2. If it means building base to extract resources from Mars / Moon / Moons of Jupiter, Saturn for profit. What is wrong with that?

    1. No glitches either, that in itself was great engineering to get it right the first time!

  2. i dont get it. Are they so concerned with weight savings that the only thing they could throw in the Dragon was like a 1 megapixel 2001 cell phone camera? was really looking forward to seeing some modern blingbling photos, like maybe a bagillion megapixel panorama of the interior. laaame tooowwn 🙁

    1. Modern blingbling cameras don’t hold up in space all that well . . . something about subatomic particles with the energy of a fast pitch hard ball . . .

    2. Compared to a broadcast studio quality high-definition digital camera?

      Yes, size, weight, power consumption, downlink bandwidth and cost *do* matter…

      Sorry that you weren’t sufficiently entertained, but that never was the goal.

  3. If there is one advice that I would tell SpaceX.
    Please hire a designer to give the capsule and rocket a more pleasing aesthetic look.
    Falcon 9 and Dragon are not really sexy looking crafts.

    And in addition put on some advertising space on the rocket and the capsule. You could fill the complete capsule wit ads like “Dash washes whiter than white”, or how “Old space” can keep you cool even in space. A Gilette ad. An Ax ad… David Beckham Bodywear – H&M, Coke’s Polar Bears, The Cloud – GoDaddy

    1. Ads should be banned in space. Just imagine a big ‘M’ on the moon advertising some burger company place on the lunar surface. Yet another relevant example of why there should be strong international curtailment on various commercial practices in space.

      1. So you don’t like a huge neon Coca Cola sign running 90 minute orbits to show the world that Coca Cola is good?

  4. We stayed up to see the hatch opened, then submitted our article to The Huffington Post (it should be up there soon). We happened to wake up for this morning’s news briefing, too. This mission couldn’t be going more smoothly thus far, and we’re impressed how seamlessly SpaceX and Dragon are following in the footsteps of NASA and the shuttle.

    A lot of questions remain about the future and whether we’ll move beyond low-Earth orbit and even questions about the present commercialization of LEO (it’s crowded up there). But Dragon is up there delivering cargo and, importantly, returning cargo to Earth less than a year after the last shuttle mission ended. Sure, SpaceX benefited from decades of NASA research, development, and experience, but spaceflight is hard, and they’re doing it.

  5. KEY to Elan’s plan is to launch a continuing series of reusable rockets. Boosters that can fly back to a runway near the launch site… Whaddoya think? RAM jet turbines on the tips of high speed ‘Osprey’ or turboprop like blades? Helicopter rockets anyone?

      1. So… the top part of the aerodynamic fairings houses the centrifugal force deployed turbine blades. The bottom part of the fairing houses the landing gear for vertical landings…

      2. Upon landing.. the central of the booster’s nine rockets fires momentarily to soften that landing.

  6. Let’s see here, this is the fourth vehicle to dock at the ISS? Space Shuttle, Soyuz, The Automated Transfer Vehicle, and the Dragon, right?

  7. I am amazed at the posts I often read on this site. What amazes me the most is the people who seem to only want to argue a mute point for the sake of arguing. While I would never stifle an individuals right to his own opinion. Some people apparently do not even have a well thought out and researched opinion of the facts.
    Therefore, I will offer my own. I think that Space X has achieved a remarkable feat and is well deserved of praise. In light of the ever increasing budget constraints placed on NASA, I for one am grateful to any organization that can continue to forge ahead with the endeavor of making space more accessible to humankind. I am also very grateful to Space X for the success achieved and the goals still to be met, especially in attaining an emergency escape vehicle for all of the brave astronauts who work on ISS to help us further our knowledge and understanding of space and our planet.
    As for the point of (Free Enterprise in Space), “God Bless America”. I believe that Space X has to meet extremely stringent government constraints and abide by guidelines that even exceed those of NASA, in order to fly.
    I truly enjoy the opinion of (most of the peoples post’s ). But I get a little nauseated at some of the misguided rants. For Gods Sake! At least learn what spell check is if you intend on making a valid point.

    1. I disagree. America is not the only country in the world nor does ‘free enterprise’ have the right to dictate over some kind of ‘universal’ laws of sovereignty or ownership over all others. Such condescending attitude like this one expressed here, frankly stink.

      1. What are you talking about?
        Give us a reference, yeah I get the the Monoliths told us to stay away from Europa , but it also said the rest of these worlds are ours,,,,,,,,,,,,

      2. Honestly, you are the only one in these conversations that sounds condescending. You obviously have something against the US, corporations, or both. Thats fine, you are entitled to your own opinions. Just don’t try and verbally beat people over the head with them. All that is going to do is cause people to ignore your comments regardless of whether they are valid or not.

      3. Yes I do have “…something against the US, corporations, or both.”

        They are clearly not associated nor aligned with the global aim of using space for the benefit of all humanity. Waving “God Bless America” doesn’t auger well for such a future, now does it?

        Just read this article “Who Owns the Moon? The Galactic Government vs. the UN” to see some of the issues;

      4. Most of these agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

        When it comes to unexplored land , only one rule applies –
        Finders keeper, loosers weepers.

        The pioneers tend to keep the spoils open for the taking.

      5. That is just an insular American view. It shows the mythical ideas of latent superiority of the American populous. Act like the world policemen is one thing, supporting what is best for all humanity is another. The arrogance, like your quote here, is why much of the world distrusts the US. It will be you undoing. Just saying.

      6. An American view? Tell that to the British Empire, the Chinese, the Portugese, the Spanish, all of whom took advantage of “finding” “unclaimed” land in their time, and making use of it. Your view of history is clearly colored by your hatred of things corporate.

      7. What absolute obfuscation. Funny all these are countries NOT corporations.
        Corporations are not a problem for me within countries. (I have not said otherwise.)
        Ownership of anything beyond the Earth is not / should not owned by anyone. My premise is simply that it should be for the benefit of all mankind, not filthy stinking Americans out for a quick buck.

      8. I’ll be honest here, my knowledge of this particular area of history is a bit weak, but I can come up with one counter argument off the top of my head — The British East-India Company.

        So, do you also believe nobody should own anything here on earth? Also, if you are going to blanket categorize Americans as “filthy stinking [and] out for a quick buck” then I’m just going to move the marker for you back into the “Unskilled Troll” category and stop responding. You clearly aren’t interested in a rational discussion.

      9. Its the blasted 21st Century not the 17th!!! People then were bought and sold, and lands stolen from indigenous cultures. They don’t do because it was morally wrong, just as buying and selling space or celestial bodies! Simple.

      10. who doesn’t do this anymore? I’m CONSTANTLY seeing news reports about trafficking in human lives TODAY.

        Regardless of what you may believe, what SpaceX and other commerical space companies are doing is good for humanity, and even more good for the US. If you don’t like that, tough.

Comments are closed.