SpaceX Dragon Reaches International Space Station One Day Late

SpaceX Dragon Launch

After a one-day delay due to mechanical problems, the SpaceX Dragon reached and has been captured by the International Space Station.  According to the Associated Press, Space Station Commander Kevin Ford told NASA, “it’s not where you start, but where you finish that counts, and you guys really finished this one on the mark.”  The Dragon launched with over 1,200 pounds (545 kilos) of cargo including supplies and scientific experiments. The AP listed some of the specific cargo which includes, “640 seeds of a flowering weed used for research, mouse stem cells, food and clothes for the six men on board the space station, trash bags, computer equipment, air purifiers, spacewalking tools and batteries.”  When the mission concludes on March 25, the Dragon will carry home 2,600 pounds (1182 kilos) of research experiments and equipment.  According to the NASA website, on its return, Dragon will be carrying, “investigation samples that will demonstrate how life in microgravity affects the growth of plant seedlings, changes to the human body, the behavior of semiconductors and detergents, and more.”  The Dragon spacecraft is one of only two spacecraft, the other being the Russian Soyuz, that can return cargo earth as well as deliver cargo to the station.  NASA expands on this by explaining, “Dragon as a mode of return transport also increases the station’s science return, an important capability to retrieve samples for analysis on the ground…Dragon’s cold stowage capability will allow scientists to examine samples returned in the middle of the crew’s mission.” This second Space X commercial flight launched from Cape Canaveral is proving to be a successful partnership and will keep NASA in the spaceflight business until it is ready to unveil its new, SLS Rocket propulsion system.  The Space Launch System, or SLS, “will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth’s orbit and destinations beyond.”  In addition, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international partner transportation to the International Space Station.

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