After the successful launch from Florida on May 22, SpaceX Dragon spacecraft berthed with the International Space Station successfully this morning.
A long overnight approach and co-ordination by the crew at SpaceX headquarters in California along with several unplanned manoeuvres concluded the final capture of the Dragon. Flight demonstrations and troubleshooting by astronaut Don Pettit helped the crew get the Dragon on the ISS.
After the capture was made Don said from the station’s Cupola capsule, “Looks like we’ve got a Dragon by the tail.” The capture moment was historic and was greeted with cheers at NASA’s mission control in Houston and SpaceX’s Hawthrone headquarters.
The long flight had it’s share of hiccups and demonstrated the real flight test nature of the big mission. The devices used to guide the craft towards the station created problems when Dragon first approached ISS. After a long night of unplanned changes and last minute manoeuvres, Dragon was captured by the ISS at 0649 hours. NASA flight director Holly Ridings gave the final command “go for capture.”
The position of the spacecraft could not be finalised for the upward thrust for capture. After a lot of planned and unplanned negotiations, the Dragon finally reached just 10 meters from the ISS when the capture command was initialised. The difference of calculations of the distance between the two spacecrafts by two different devices contributed to the major problems in the capture process.
After 3 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds of the launch from California, the Dragon successfully docked with the ISS.
SpaceX dares to venture into the unknown