SpaceX cargo arrives at crowded space station
By Kerry SHERIDAN
Miami (AFP) April 10, 2016
SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo ship, carrying lettuce seeds, lab mice and an inflatable pop-up room, arrived Sunday at a crowded International Space Station where six spacecraft are now docked.
British astronaut Tim Peake reached out with the station's robotic arm and grappled the Dragon, carrying its nearly 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms) of gear, at 7:23 am (1123 GMT).
"We show load is safe, and it looks like we've caught a Dragon," said Peake.
Four Russian spaceships -- two Progress cargo carriers and two Soyuz capsules which ferry astronauts -- are docked at the space station, along with Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo ship and SpaceX's Dragon.
Not since 2011, during the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery, have there been six vehicles parked at the ISS at the same time, NASA said.
Included in the Dragon's cargo is an expandable room that will be temporarily attached to the orbiting outpost.
Known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the habitat is not scheduled for use until the end of May, but will stay at the ISS for two years so astronauts can test how it stands up to space debris and solar radiation.
The module can expand to about 10 feet (three meters) in diameter by 13 feet (four meters) long.
Astronauts plan to enter the room "for a few hours several times a year to retrieve sensor data and assess conditions," NASA said.
The cargo also contains Chinese cabbage seeds which astronauts will grow in space, and lab mice that will test whether certain drugs can help prevent muscle and bone loss in microgravity.
SpaceX's Dragon is currently the only spaceship capable of returning cargo to Earth.
It is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on May 11, carrying science experiments including biological samples from astronaut Scott Kelly's one-year mission which ended in March.
- Landing success -
The Dragon blasted off on Friday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
Minutes after launch, the first stage portion of the Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.
The feat was hailed as a big step forward for SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's mission to make rockets as reusable as airplanes, an innovation that he says will bring down the cost of spaceflight.
Currently, sophisticated rocket parts costing tens of millions of dollars are jettisoned into the sea after launch.
Blue Origin, headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has also managed to land its rockets on solid ground after launch, but these flights have been suborbital and did not fly to the same heights -- or travel as fast -- as SpaceX's Falcon 9.
Musk said about half of the time, the Falcon 9 rocket will need to return to the ocean, so perfecting the technique of touching down on a floating platform is important.
US President Barack Obama congratulated SpaceX for landing its rocket at sea.
"It's because of innovators like you & NASA that America continues to lead in space exploration," Obama said on Twitter.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.