Sunday, April 20, 2014

SpaceX resupply craft docked to space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A commercial cargo craft made an Easter Sunday arrival at the International Space Station delivering several tons of fresh supplies for it's crew of six.

Filled with 3,500 pounds of equipment, including over 150 science experiments, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft was docked to the orbiting laboratory for the next four weeks.

Station commander and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata operated the Canadian-built robotic arm to capture Dragon at 7:14 a.m. EDT, on April 20, as the two spacecraft soared 260 miles above Egypt.

Wakata and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio then moved over to the Destiny module for the actual docking of the supply craft to the earth facing port of the Harmony node.

Mastracchio then began driving sixteen bolts into place which was completed at 10:06 a.m. to firmly attach Dragon to Harmony.

This Dragon resupply flight is the third of twelve planned flights by SpaceX in a contract deal with NASA worth nearly $1.4 billion. Three more Dragon resupply flights are scheduled for 2014.

Astronauts will open the hatch way into Dragon on Monday morning and begin unloading the craft.

Besides several plant growth experiments, Dragon is delivering the lower torso for the human-like robot aboard the station, Robonaut 2.

Robonaut is expected to work by remote to perform tasks outside the space station

The seven meter long cargo craft will stay with the station until May 18 when it is released to fly home loaded with completed experiments and hardware.

Dragon is expected to make a splashdown in the Pacific waters about 250 miles west of Baja California about seven hours following it's departure.

On Wednesday, Mastracchio and Steve Swanson will step outside the orbiting complex to replace a failed station back-up computer with a spare.

Known as a multiplexer/ demultiplexer, the secondary computer is located on the station S0 truss. The brief spacewalk is expected to begin at 9:20 a.m. and last about three hours.

(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace, science and technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)

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