On Sunday, while we ate our weight in chocolate, the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) grappled an Easter dragon! Proof of this capture was sent down to Earth from NASA astronaut, and Expedition 39 flight engineer, Steve Swanson as he posted the above image to Instagram with the message, ‘We have a Dragon. All is good.’ The image (credited to NASA) shows the SpaceX Dragon firmly in the grasp of the ISS’s Canadarm2.
Beautifully launched at 3:25 pm EDT Friday from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon spacecraft delivered nearly 2.5 tons of supplies and scientific payloads to the ISS. I doubt the Easter Bunny delivered as much this weekend. (Image credit: NASA)
The Dragon was grappled at 7:14 am by ISS Commander Koichi Wakata as it flew within about 32 feet of the station marking the arrival of the third SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo mission to resupply the orbiting complex. At the time of capture the ISS was flying around 260 statute miles over Egypt, west of the Nile River.
The crew spent much of the remainder of Sunday pressurizing the vestibule between Dragon and the station and setting up power and data cables to prepare for today’s opening of Dragon’s hatch. The Dragon will spend four weeks attached to the station as the crew reloads the space freighter with about 3,600 pounds of experiment samples and hardware for return the return trip. After completion of the Dragon’s mission, Mission Control Houston will remotely unberth Dragon from the station’s Harmony node and maneuver it to the to the release point with Canadarm2, the station crew then will release Dragon for its parachute-assisted splashdown and recovery in the Pacific Ocean.
Way to go SpaceX! Let’s hope there was chocolate aboard!