SpaceX: mission (and history) accomplished…

Here’s SpaceX’s Dragon capsule after it was captured by the International Space Station‘s (ISS) Canadarm2 early this morning. Credit: www.2space.net

It’s official! According to NASA’s official press release, “The International Space Station Expedition 31 crew successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the station’s robotic arm at 9:56 AM EDT. The feat came 3 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds after the mission’s launch. The station was 251 miles over northwest Australia when capture occurred.” This was soon followed by, ” The SpaceX Dragon capsule was securely bolted to the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 12:02 p.m. EDT.” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, SpaceX has made history and single-handedly ushered in a new era of space exploration. They are now the only private company ever to launch into orbit and return and the only to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). Not too shabby for an endeavor that only started a mere four years ago after President Obama announced the beginning of NASA’s new Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The success of Dragon‘s launch, rendezvous, capture, and docking with the ISS can’t be emphasized enough, this now helps to close the space gap which I have mentioned previously and no longer leaves the U.S. without a viable means to launch astronauts into space. Of course, there will still need to be more test flights and it might still be awhile before NASA okays manned flights of its astronauts on Dragon capsules, but this is definite and exciting progress to say the least!

I think without a doubt though, my favorite tidbit from this whole event was the reaction by NASA astronaut and current ISS resident, Don Pettit who relayed this gem after the ISS’s Canadarm2 (the robotic arm used to grab and move things outside the station) had successfully grabbed hold of the Dragon capsule: “Houston, it looks like we got us a Dragon by the tail.” Classic.

At 12:02pm EST, Dragon successfully berthed (docked) with the ISS’s Harmony module. Credit: NASA

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