The Dragon spacecraft has solved some of its technical issues.
After an easy launch and a troubled startup, the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft launched March 1 arrived at the International Space Station early in the morning EST on March 3. The Dragon maneuvered and was captured about 253 miles above Ukraine, and was then installed onto the ISS’ Harmony module through ground commands from mission control. Just after launch Dragon had dealt with malfunctions in three of its four thruster pods, which SpaceX personnel were able to clear. Dragon was carrying a variety of experiments, as well as some comforts for the crew of the ISS. The Dragon spacecraft was launched and operated by private company SpaceX as part of their $1.6 billion “orbital trucking” contract with NASA to deliver cargo to the ISS, and was their third successful delivery.
“The newly arrived scientific experiments delivered by Dragon carry the promise of discoveries that benefit Earth and dramatically increase our understanding of how humans adapt to space,” said a NASA administrator. “Spaceflight will never be risk-free, but it’s a critical achievement that we once again have a U.S. capability to transport science to and from the International Space Station. The science delivered and to be returned from the space station has the promise of giving us a unique insight into problems that we face on Earth.”
Dragon was loaded with about 1,200 pounds (570 kilograms) of supplies for the station. Some of the experiments include understanding how to better cast molten metals, the effects of gravity on E. coli bacteria, the effects of space travel on small batteries, and producing high purity aluminum sulfate crystals. Of note among experiments returning to earth is another crystal purity project aimed at creating efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics. The delay of about a day wasn’t expected to impact any of the scientific investigations being delivered. The Dragon capsule will spend 22 days attached to the station before splashing down in the pacific ocean off the coast of California on March 25.