Wednesday 23 October 2019

SpaceX shipment reaches space station after weekend launch

The Dragon capsule delivered 5,500lb of equipment and experiments.

(NASA TV via AP)
(NASA TV via AP)

By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press

A SpaceX shipment has arrived at the International Space Station with a “cosmic catch” by a pair of Canadians.

The Dragon capsule delivered 5,500lb of equipment and experiments.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques used the station’s big robot arm — also made in Canada — to capture the Dragon approximately 250 miles above the North Atlantic. An external cable that normally comes off during launch dangled from the capsule, but did not interfere with the grappling.

“Welcome on board, Dragon,” Mr Saint-Jacques radioed. He congratulated ground teams for their help, in English and French.

He later told Canadian schoolchildren it was “a big moment of pride” to grab the Dragon using the station’s 58ft robot arm — Canada’s main contribution to the space station.

He became the first Canadian to use it to grab a visiting spacecraft — “a cosmic catch”, in the words of the Canadian Space Agency.

“To be at the controls myself, after all these years of training, it was a very, very special moment — and, fortunately, it all went well,” he told the schoolchildren later in the day.

It is the second station visit for this recycled Dragon, which was launched by SpaceX on Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It also flew in 2017.

This is SpaceX’s 17th delivery to the space station. The first was in 2012.

Northrop Grumman is Nasa’s other shipper – its Cygnus cargo ship arrived two weeks ago.

The Dragon will remain for about a month, being filled with science samples for return to Earth. It is the only cargo ship capable of coming back intact.

Besides one Canadian, the space station is home to three Americans and two Russians.

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