SPACEX DRAGON DOCKS AT SPACE STATION IN HISTORIC FIRST

Fox News on May 25, 2012, published an AP report on the first commercial delivery into the cosmos. Excerpts below:

U.S. astronaut Donald Pettit used the space station’s 58-foot robot arm to snare the gleaming white Dragon after a few hours of extra checks and maneuvers.

“Looks like we’ve got us a dragon by the tail,” Pettit announced from 250 miles up once he locked onto Dragon’s docking mechanism.

This is the first time a private company has attempted to send a vessel to the space station, an achievement previously reserved for a small, elite group of government agencies.

The astronauts wasted no time getting the Dragon capsule into position for actual docking to the space station. The unmanned capsule is carrying 1,000 pounds of supplies on this unprecedented test flight.

On the 24th the capsule came within 1 1/2 miles of the space station in a practice fly-by. It returned to the neighborhood early on the 25th so Pettit, along with Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers could capture it with a robot arm. First, the capsule went through a series of stop-and-go demonstrations to prove it was under good operating control.

SpaceX — officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — is one of several companies vying for the chance to launch Americans from U.S. soil.

That ability ended with NASA’s final shuttle flight last summer.

…the Dragon is designed to safely re-enter the atmosphere, parachuting into the ocean like the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules did back in the 1960s. Assuming all goes well…, the space station’s six-man crew will release the Dragon on May 31 after filling it with science experiments and equipment

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