'Dragon back' as cargo reaches space station
by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Dec 17, 2017
SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo ship arrived on Sunday at the International Space Station, carrying supplies and experiments for the astronauts in orbit.
"Capture confirmed," a NASA commentator said at 5:57 am (10:57 GMT), when the space station's robotic arm, operated by one of its astronauts, attached itself to the cargo ship as it floated over Australia and Papua New Guinea.
"It's a great day to see Dragon back at ISS again," said another NASA commentator.
The recycled spaceship blasted off on Friday carrying 4,800 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of food, supplies and experiments -- including one to study thyroid cancer and another to grow barley in space.
It was the first time SpaceX launched both a rocket and a cargo ship that have flown before.
Three minutes after launch the booster and second stage of the rocket separated.
The second stage continued to propel the Dragon toward the International Space Station, while the rocket booster landed upright on solid ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The California-based SpaceX company headed by Internet tycoon Elon Musk aims to lower the cost of spaceflight by reusing costly rocket components.
It was the 14th recovery of a booster for SpaceX this year.
The Dragon cargo ship previously flew to the ISS in 2015.
NASA is SpaceX's most important customer, and this mission is SpaceX's 13th of 20 under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.
The arrival comes as a three-man space crew featuring American and Japanese rookie astronauts as well as an experienced Russian cosmonaut blasted off from Kazakhstan on Sunday for a six-month mission at the International Space Station.
SpaceX resupply truck Dragon on route to ISS for space research delivery
Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with more than 4,800 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the space station.
Research materials flying inside Dragon's pressurized area include an investigation demonstrating the benefits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in a microgravity environment. Designed by the company Made in Space, and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the investigation will attempt to pull fiber optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fiber optic glass. Results from this investigation could lead to the production of higher-quality fiber optic products for use in space and on Earth.
NASA's Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor, or TSIS-1, will measure the Sun's energy input to Earth. TSIS-1 measurements will be three times more accurate than previous capabilities, enabling scientists to study the Sun's natural influence on Earth's ozone, atmospheric circulation, clouds and ecosystems. These observations are essential for a scientific understanding of the effects of solar variability on the Earth system.
The Space Debris Sensor (SDS) will measure the orbital debris environment around the space station for two to three years. Once mounted on the exterior of the station, this one-square-meter sensor will provide near-real-time debris impact detection and recording. Research from this investigation could help lower the risks posed by orbital debris to human life and critical hardware.
This is SpaceX's 13th cargo flight to the space station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2018 and return to Earth with more than 3,600 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.
For more than 17 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,100 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.
Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan (AFP) Dec 14, 2017
Two astronauts, from the US and Italy, and a Russian cosmonaut on Thursday landed in Kazakhstan after almost five months on the International Space Station, footage from the Russian space agency showed. American Randy Bresnik, Paolo Nespoli of Italy and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Russia landed on the Kazakh steppe at 2.37pm local time (0837 GMT) in a Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft. Over 139 days in s ... read more
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