Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dragon Links to ISS; Musk Declares "Big Moment"

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida - The Dragon spacecraft first was grappled and then mated with the International Space Station this morning.

“This is a big moment in the course of this mission and for commercial spaceflight,” said SpaceX CEO and Chief Technical Officer Elon Musk. “We are pleased that Dragon is now ready to deliver its cargo to the International Space Station.”

Expedition 33 crew member Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency used the stations' robotic arm to reach for and grapple the spacecraft at 6:56 am EDT.

ISS Commander Sunita Williams of NASA remarked, “Looks like we’ve tamed the Dragon. We’re happy she’s on board with us.” 

Following Williams guided and installed Dragon to the station's Harmony module at 9:03 am EDT, enabling it to be bolted in place for an expected 18-day stay at the station.

The crew will pressurize the vestibule on Thursday and open the hatch to Dragon.  The crew will then begin unloading Dragon’s cargo, which includes crew supplies, vehicle hardware, experiments, and an ultra-cold freezer for storing scientific samples.

Dragon was launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Sunday night from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  The mission, designated SpaceX CRS-1, is the first of at least 12 that SpaceX will perform under NASA’s $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Dragon is expected to be released from the space station on October 28 with return cargo that will include used station hardware and more than a ton of scientific samples. Splashdown and recovery in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California will follow the same day.

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