Friday, May 25, 2012

Dragon Capsule Docks With International Space Station

This marks the first time a private company has launched a craft to the ISS. It is an historic first that is the start of the next chapter of space flight and exploration, one dominated by the private sector.

"The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule made a historic arrival at the International Space Station on Friday, triumphantly captured by astronauts wielding a giant robot arm.

SpaceX is the first private company to accomplish such a feat: a commercial cargo delivery into the cosmos.

"There's so much that could have gone wrong and it went right," said an elated Elon Musk, the billionaire maestro of SpaceX.

"This really is, I think, going to be recognized as a significantly historical step forward in space travel — and hopefully the first of many to come."

NASA 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. The two vessels came together while sailing above Australia.

"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.

NASA controllers applauded as their counterparts at SpaceX's control center in Hawthorne, Calif. — including Musk — lifted their arms in triumph and jumped out of their seats to exchange high fives. The two control rooms worked together, as equal partners, to pull off the feat.

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