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: NASA astronaut memorial stirs memories for shuttle veteran (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Scientists launch CubeSats into radiation belts

12 hours ago

Twin, pintsized satellites built in part at the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center will be launched into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:20 a.m. (EST) Thursday, January ...

Cassini catches Titan naked in the solar wind

12 hours ago

(Phys.org)—Researchers studying data from NASA's Cassini mission have observed that Saturn's largest moon, Titan, behaves much like Venus, Mars or a comet when exposed to the raw power of the solar wind. ...

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.