Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Station Crew Opens Dragon Hatch

Commander Suni Williams opens Dragon hatch 

Commander Suni Williams opens the hatch to the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Credit: NASA TV


Running well ahead of schedule, Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide opened the hatch to the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship at 1:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday, marking a milestone for the first commercial resupply mission to reach the International Space Station, according to the NASA website.

› View video of Dragon hatch opening

Hatch opening had been scheduled to occur on Thursday, but the crew sped through its post-berthing procedures, enabling the earlier entrance into the cargo ship.

Earlier, Hoshide, with the assistance of Williams, used the robotic arm from a workstation inside the station’s cupola to capture Dragon at 6:56 a.m. as the spacecraft flew within about 32 feet of the station.

With Dragon securely in the grasp of Canadarm2, ground controllers remotely operated the arm to guide the capsule to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. Hoshide and Williams then swapped places at the controls of the robotics workstation, and Williams used the Canadian Space Agency-provided robotic arm to install Dragon to its docking port on Harmony at 9:03 a.m.

› View video of Dragon grapple and berthing

Dragon is scheduled to spend 18 days attached to the station. During that time, the crew will unload 882 pounds of crew supplies, science research and hardware from the cargo craft and reload it with 1,673 pounds of cargo for return to Earth. After Dragon’s mission at the station is completed, the crew will use Canadarm2 to detach Dragon from Harmony on October 28 and release it for a splashdown about six hours later in the Pacific Ocean, 250 miles off the coast of southern California.

Dragon launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 8:35 p.m. Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning NASA's first contracted cargo delivery flight, designated SpaceX CRS-1, to the station.

This story is courtesy of NASA.

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