Cargo spacecraft docks with the International Space Station

Cargo spacecraft docks with the International Space Station

Kenneth Drake
April 5, 2018

The spacecraft was bolted onto the orbiting outpost at 9 am (1300 GMT).

Two days after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 9:00 a.m. EDT.

"This is the second supply mission for NASA for which we not only use a launcher already in use but also a Dragon capsule who has already flown to the International Space Station", Jessica Jensen, the director of the Dragon missions within SpaceX, declared before the launch. Last December, SpaceX had for the first time reused a rocket and a capsule during a single mission. It was launched on April 2 with a Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX on a NASA-contracted mission. Therefore, reusage plans of SpaceX for cutting down the spaceflight expenses are at large. Numerous scientific experiments are included in this, one being about plant growth in space.

Alongside the cargo, aboard the Dragon is RemoveDebris, an experimental spacecraft.

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The Dragon will remain at the ISS until next month, when crewmembers will load it up with about 3,900 lbs. It's clear that the assistance from SpaceX is mutually beneficial, with NASA getting the SpaceX Cargo Capsule carrying supplies the station desperately needs and SpaceX receiving an influx of cash that might be able to assist Elon Musk's vision to bring a man to Mars. The capsule will depart and maneuver its way to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California, where SpaceX personnel will retrieve it by boat.

SpaceX has now flown more than 50 flights with its reusable Falcon 9 rockets since its first test launch in 2010.

Astronauts obtained the Dragon using the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

"What is really neat about this is it is becoming the norm", Jensen said.