The unmanned cargo ship of SpaceX, Dragon, that was carrying supplies and experiments for the astronauts in orbit, successfully docked with the International Space Station, this Sunday.
Docking is a very delicate process. The sealing of the 16 bolts, joining the two craft usually takes hours. The “Dragon installed” announcement of a NASA commentator at 1326 GMT indicated the successful docking of Dragon.
The docking happened at a height of about 250 miles (402 kilometers) above the North Atlantic sea.
It was over Australia and Papua New Guinea when the Dragon, having arrived, was attached to the space station by the space station’s robotic arm. One of the astronauts operated the robotic arm manually.
It is the very first occasion when both the rocket and the cargo ship used by SpaceX have flown before. It was back in 2015 when the cargo ship Dragon had flown to the ISS previously.
The Mission Control was quoted, “It’s a great day to see Dragon back at ISS again”.
Spaceman Joe Acaba described it as, “It’s a beautiful spacecraft, and we’re looking forward to digging into it and getting some science on board.”
The dragon was launched on Friday. It contained 4,800 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of food, supplies. There were also some experimental things such as a study on thyroid cancer, lab mice, and 20 barley seeds. The barley seeds are part of an experiment conducted by the well-known beer manufacturing company, Budweiser, who are willing to serve the first brews on Mars. They are trying to observe the sprouting of the seeds in weightlessness.
It took 3 minutes for the launch to get the booster separated from the second stage of the rocket. The Dragon was propelled towards the International Space Station by the second stage of the rocket. The detached rocket booster, on the other hand, landed upright on solid ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the 14th occasion this year when the rocket booster was recovered successfully by SpaceX.
The California-based company, under the supervision of Elon Musk, has done a really impressive job to bring down the cost of spaceflight by reusing the costly rocket parts.
The most important customer of SpaceX is NASA. This mission is the 13th among the 20 missions that will be conducted by SpaceX under their $1.6 billion contract with NASA.