Sunday, April 10, 2016

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Arrives at Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon is seen shortly after it was mated to the Harmony module. The Cygnus cargo craft with its circular solar arrays and the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft (bottom right) are also seen in this view. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was bolted into place on the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 9:57 a.m. EDT as the station flew 250 miles over southern Algeria. The spacecraft is delivering about 7,000 pounds of science and research investigations, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, known as BEAM.

British astronaut Tim Peake reached out with the station's robotic arm and grappled the Dragon at 7:23 am (1123 GMT).

"It looks like we've caught a Dragon," said Peake.

Dragon’s arrival marks the first time two commercial cargo vehicles have been docked simultaneously at the space station. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrived to the station just over two weeks ago. With the arrival of Dragon, the space station ties the record for most vehicles on station at one time – six.

The BEAM 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 space freighter was launched on Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, atop the SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

It was eighth California-based aerospace manufacturer's cargo mission to the ISS and the first flight of Dragon to the space station since last June, when the Falcon 9 rocket exploded three minutes after it had been launched.

Credit: NASAsputniknews.comAFP

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