Done: Dragon Capsule Now Successfully Attached to ISS

This day will go down in history as the first time a commercial organization has their personal spacecraft connected to the International Space Station.

After Don Pettit grappled SpaceX’s Dragon capsule with the CanadArm2, Andre Kuipers later on installed the capsule on the nadir port of the station’s Harmony node at 15:02 UTC/11:52 a.m. EDT. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba completed berthing operations by bolting the Dragon to Harmony at 16:02 UTC/12:02 p.m. EDT to the space station Friday.

Congratulations on a wonderful capture,” astronaut Megan Behnken radioed to the station crew from Mission Control. “You’ve made a lot of folks happy down here, over in Hawthorne and right here in Houston. Great job, guys.”

“Today marks another critical step in the future of American spaceflight,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Now that a U.S. company has proven its ability to resupply the space station, it opens a new frontier for commercial opportunities in space — and new job creation opportunities right here in the U.S. By handing off space station transportation to the private sector, NASA is freed up to carry out the really hard work of sending astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before.”

The plan is to wait right up until Saturday to open hatches. The spacecraft is carrying virtually 460 kg (1,150) pounds of equipment and supplies: 674 pounds of food and crew provisions 46 pounds of science hardware and tools 271 pounds of cargo bags required for long term flights and 22 pounds of personal computer gear.

“The crew is pretty excited so don’t be surprised if they want to open the hatches a little early,” said ISS Flight Director Holly Ridings at a press conference.

The routine has Dragon remaining berthed to the ISS right up until May 31. The CanadArm2 will unberth the capsule and then release it. Dragon is the only cargo ship created to return to Earth with experiments and equipment others ships such as the Russian Progress, the European ATV and the Japanese HTV all burn up up in the environment. The Russian Soyuz crew craft can bring home limited tools.

Sources and more information:

• International Space Station Successfully Snares SpaceX Dragon Capsule (PHOTO)

In an historic first, the SpaceX Dragon capsule has just been successfully snared by the International Space Station. This marks the first time a commercial craft has ever landed at the ISS. The capsule was pulled to the station by a robotic arm and will remain unopened until a routine air inspection can be performed.

• SpaceX Dragon parks 30m off Space Station as docking nears

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule has reached the hold point near the International Space Station, just 30m from the orbiting platform, and waiting for the optimum time for the station to grapple it in. It’s taken several hours of testing and positioning to get Dragon in so close, with NASA and the SpaceX ground team repeatedly running through the “retreat”…

• SpaceX docks with ISS: “Looks like we caught a Dragon by the tail”

• SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule Makes Historic Rendezvous With ISS

• SpaceX Dragon makes International Space Station fly-by

• SpaceX makes final approach to space station