By Kalwinder Kaur
SpaceX's Dragon capsule was successfully integrated to the space station by the International Space Station's Expedition 31 crew. This commercial company is the first to achieve such space operation.
The Dragon capsule was validated by NASA. A series of system tests was conducted with in addition to a successful fly-under of the space station Thursday after which it the station Friday. A series of convoluted test maneuvers was carried out by Dragon as it neared the orbiting laboratory. Dragon’s potential to efficiently abort and maneuver will be demonstrated during these maneuvers. These potentials of Dragon were observed before reaching a "berthing box" measuring 65-foot. With the help of station's robotic arm, NASA astronaut Don Pettit grappled the Dragon present within the box.
The capsule was installed to the basal portion of the station's Harmony node by ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers. Few minutes later NASA astronaut Joe Acaba achieved berthing operations by fastening the Dragon to Harmony.
The Dragon capsule was launched on Tuesday. It took flight from Florida-based Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, this is the second demonstration mission that grants investments for a consistent resupply missions to the space station and for promoting commercial space industry in America.
The Dragon capsule provides 1,014 lb of supplies to the station, encompassing non-critical technology, experiments, clothing and food. Crew members will unveil the hatch to the capsule on Saturday, where the cargo will be unloaded during a four-day period. Dragon will be loaded with 1,367 lb of hardware. Dragon and station hatches will conclude by May 30.
Dragon will be removed from Harmony on May 31 by the Expedition 31 crew members. From 33-foot release point, the capsule will be un-grappled. Following four hours from leaving the station, Dragon will deorbit. It will re-enter Earth's atmosphere within 30 minutes with subsequent landing in Pacific Ocean extending 250 mi west of southern California.