The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Friday, May 25, 2012

SpaceX Dragon Closes in on Space Station: History In the Making

As of this morning, the SpaceX Dragon capsule has closed to within 235 m of the station, successfully performed maneuvers to retreat to 250 m and return to 235. If all goes well, around 8:00 am today, the Canadarm 2 on the ISS will have locked onto the Dragon (once it has shut down its thrusters) and been docked to the ISS.

This is history in the making. Never before has a private company been able to send a capsule to the International Space Station. Now, at 7:20 am, Dragon has been given to go ahead to move inside the "stay out zone" to 150m from the station and hold again. It's a slow, incremental testing process and Dragon is performing beautifully so far.

The view from the station of the approaching Dragon as it passes over the planet is gorgeous.

This just in, testing is taking longer than anticipated and the grappled and docking may take place a little later than originally thought. That's the way it goes with test flights!

The significance of this mission is that it gives the US a new way to get to the ISS with supplies, allows heavy loads of experiments and equipment to be offloaded in a way only the Shuttles could provide previously, offers a reusable capsule from a private firm for economical reuse, and with the creation of the next generation Dragon capsule will give the US a way to return people to space sooner than waiting for NASA's Orion capsule will allow (with a craft capable of going beyond low earth orbit for the first time in 30+ years). All in all, this is a very big day. Godspeed Dragon! Good luck to all at SpaceX and NASA. May this be a long and profitable partnership.

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