SpaceX joy as Space Station robo-arm grabs Dragon's tail
Elon Musk's team makes history, astronaut has cheesy line ready
Elon Musk's SpaceX has just made history with the first ever commercial cargoship to be captured by the International Space Station's robotic arm.
ISS captures the Dragon. Credit: NASA TV
Flying above northwestern Australia, flight engineer Don Pettit aboard the ISS reached out with the Canadarm and grabbed the Dragon at 9.56am EDT, 14.56 GMT.
Reg staff are not sure if astronauts are given cheesy lines to say at these big moments, but Pettit had a great one ready.
"Looks like we've got a dragon by the tail," he announced to Mission Control Centre in Houston.
"Looks like this sim went really well, we're ready to turn it around and do it for real," he joked.
Getting up close enough to the station and flying steadily alongside it are the hard parts of a docking like this, and Dragon's approach was not without its minor hiccups.
As the ship got closer to the station, its LIDAR sensor started seeing reflections from the Japanese Experiment Module which were throwing off its calculations. However, the SpaceX team on the ground were able to narrow the sensor's field-of-view so that it could ignore the JEM.
The next step in the process will be the opening of the hatch of the Dragon to let the ISS crew in for the cargo, which will happen sometime tomorrow. It was originally scheduled for 5.00 EDT (10.00 BST), but since the Dragon capture was somewhat delayed today, the hatch might not pop until later tomorrow. ®
Now if they can just get the stuffed animals out without dropping them. Perhaps they won't slip out of the claw in zero-g, but I'll believe it when I see it. Those grabbers are always rigged.
Re: This is Very very good...
"Very good" doesn't begin to describe it. I was 12 years old when I watched Armstrong step out onto the Sea Of Tranquillity; this wasn't nearly as globally life-changing as that moment, but in its own way, it was made of awesome. Part of it, I think, is due to the fact that the Dragon capsule is designed to return safely instead of burning up, can be reused, and SpaceX already has a mananed version in the works. I'm no big flag-waver, but it's good to see someone getting close to having the USA's next generation of manned spacecraft ready to fly soon. I'm no rabid nationalist type, but after Apollo and the Shuttle, the idea that we were stuck buying rides from the Russians rankled a bit, for some reason I can't really describe.
I, too, noted the sparseness and tidiness of the SpaceX mission control room in California. I was almost disappointed after nearly a lifetime of watching the action in Houston's MCC. Never mind what a proper spaceship is supposed to look like, MCC Houston is what a Mission Control is supposed to look like -- especially back in the Apollo era; now, there was a mission control... guys smoked in that room, and cursed, and slammed down gallons of coffee, and smoked and cursed some more. Talk about your "man cave".
I take it you don't shop with Amazon too much: their boxes are going to share the end times of the planet with the cockroaches and AOL floppies.