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Station Crew Captures Dragon

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:49 am via: NASA
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The International Space Station’s Expedition 39 crew successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon resupply vehicle with the station’s robotic arm at 7:14 a.m. EDT Sunday.

Controlling the 57-foot Canadarm2 from a robotics workstation inside the station’s cupola, Commander Koichi Wakata, with assistance from Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio, grappled Dragon as it flew within about 32 feet of the complex.  Flight Engineer Steve Swanson joined his crewmates in the seven-windowed cupola to assist with the capture and help coordinate the activities.  At the time of capture, the orbital laboratory was flying around 260 statute miles over Egypt, west of the Nile River.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle is grappled by the International Space Station's robotic arm.  Image Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle is grappled by the International Space Station's robotic arm. Image Credit: NASA TV

With Dragon now securely in the grasp of Canadarm2, the robotics officer at Mission Control Houston will remotely operate the arm to guide the capsule to its port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. Once Dragon is in place, Mastracchio will oversee the Common Berthing Mechanism operations for first and second stage capture of the cargo ship, assuring that the vehicle is securely attached to its port with a hard mate. Berthing operations are scheduled to begin around 9:45 a.m., and will be carried live on NASA TV starting at 9:30 a.m.

The crew will spend much of the remainder of their workday pressurizing the vestibule between Dragon and the station and setting up power and data cables to prepare for the opening of Dragon’s hatch on Monday.

Filled with nearly 5,000 pounds of crew supplies and cargo to support more than 150 scientific investigations planned for Expeditions 39 and 40, Dragon is scheduled to spend four weeks attached to the station. The crew will reload the space freighter with about 3,600 pounds of experiment samples and hardware for return to Earth.

Flight Director Matt Abbott monitors the approach of the SpaceX Dragon from a console in the International Space Station flight control room at Houston's Mission Control Center. Image Credit: NASA

Flight Director Matt Abbott monitors the approach of the SpaceX Dragon from a console in the International Space Station flight control room at Houston's Mission Control Center. Image Credit: NASA

After Dragon’s mission at the station is completed, Mission Control Houston will remotely unberth Dragon from Harmony and maneuver it to the to the release point with Canadarm2, The station crew then will release Dragon for its parachute-assisted splashdown and recovery in the Pacific Ocean.

Dragon launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 3:25 p.m. Friday from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The SpaceX-3 mission is the company’s third cargo delivery flight to the station through a $1.6 billion NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract.

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