SpaceX capsule completes first tests before ISS docking

May 23, 2012
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket early May 22 as it heads for space carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station in a few days.

The Dragon space capsule, which has launched a new era of commercial spaceflight, completed its first tests before its scheduled docking at the International Space Station, NASA said Wednesday.

The test flight of US company SpaceX's capsule, which launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday, aims to show that industry can restore US access to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year.

"So far everything is going as planned," said NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, that directs all ISS missions and activities. He pointed to a "sense of optimism" among the mission control team.

Humphries said the capsule has completed the first part of its , including navigating with the Absolute GPS system, an abort demonstration and a demonstration of free drift, a mode often used when interacting with the ISS.

The mission is set to include a fly-by and berthing with the station this week, before the capsule returns to Earth at the end of this month.

On Thursday, the spacecraft's sensors and are to undergo a series of tests to see if it is ready to berth, including a complicated fly-under at a distance of about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers).

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket early May 22 as it heads for space carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station in a few days.

If NASA gives the green light, the Dragon will then approach the ISS on Friday in an attempt to berth with the station.

If the Dragon capsule successfully docks at the orbiting outpost, it will mark a new era in with commercial firms playing a growing role in space travel.

The astronauts on board the ISS will maneuver the station's to help capture the capsule and attach it to the orbiting research outpost.

The hatch of the Dragon is set to open on Saturday to unload 521 kilograms (1,148 pounds) of cargo for the space lab and restock it with a 660-kilogram (1,455-pound) load to return to Earth.

On May 31, the Dragon is set to detach from the station and seek to make a safe landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.

Explore further: Radar guards against space debris

Related Stories

SpaceX, NASA readies for April 30 launch to ISS

Mar 20, 2012

Preparations for the April 30 launch of the SpaceX's Dragon commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station are underway without major problems, a top NASA official said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Radar guards against space debris

19 minutes ago

Space debris poses a growing threat to satellites and other spacecraft, which could be damaged in the event of a collision. A new German space surveillance system, schedu- led to go into operation in 2018, will help to prevent ...

Why we need to keep adding leap seconds

2 hours ago

Today at precisely 10am Australian Eastern Standard time, something chronologically peculiar will take place: there'll be an extra second between 09:59:59 and 10:00:00.

Helping Europe prepare for asteroid risk

2 hours ago

Each year, astronomers worldwide discover over 1000 new asteroids or other space rocks that could strike our planet. And if one is spotted heading towards Earth, experts working in ESA and national emergency ...

Image: Increasingly active Comet 67P

3 hours ago

On 13 August 2015, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko will reach its closest point to the Sun along its 6.5-year long orbit. It will be around 185 million km from the Sun at 'perihelion', between the orbits ...

Image: Modeling Gaia's avionics on the ground

3 hours ago

A full-size working model of Gaia's internal systems arrived in Germany this week. The Avionics Model is mounted in a circular set-up representing the systems on the actual satellite, now orbiting the Sun–Earth ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rwinners
not rated yet May 25, 2012
Fingers crossed!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.