2012 05 25 – Successful Berthing of SpaceX’s Dragon to the ISS

SpaceX is a commercial space transport company, founded in 2002 by Elon Much (founder of PayPal and Zip2 Corportation). They build launch vehicles in for both private and commercial space transport.

In 2008, SpaceX was hired by NASA to use the DragonLab spacecraft and the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to resupply the ISS after the space Shuttle was to retire. June 2012, SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 successfully orbited Earth. In December 2010, it was the first commercial company to successfully re-enter (and retrieve) a spacecraft from orbit.

Photo credit: SpaceX

After a failed launch may 19, 2012 due to the detection of higher engine chamber pressure readings, the new launch was scheduled for May 22, 2012. Its mission was to demonstrate cargo delivery to the ISS by a privately built spacecraft. Among its cargo, the Dragon is carrying supplies, food and clothing, and lab experiments all weighing ~1200 pounds. As this launch was a test flight, its designed load capability of 7300 pounds was reduced.

Successful lift off was at 07:44 UT at Cape Canaveral as the ISS was crossing the north Atlantic. Dragon performed a series of tests before arriving at the ISS May 25th, 2012, and then was captured by astronaut Don Pettit using a robotic arm to berth it to the Harmony module at 16:02 UT. This marks a historic day being the first privately (commercially) owned spacecraft to dock to the ISS and will certainly pave the way for future transports.

On May 31, 212, the Dragon is scheduled to undock from the ISS and re-orbit Earth, using parachutes to land in the Pacific Ocean off of California’s coast.

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~ by Erika Rix on May 25, 2012.

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