UPDATE: Just after noon on Friday (EDT), the Dragon capsule became a part of the International Space Station, berthing with the Harmony module’s Nadir port. Read the full report by Irene Klotz: Dragon Capsule Berthed at Space Station
ORIGINAL: After a painstakingly slow and careful approach to the International Space Station on Friday, a Dragon cargo capsule built and operated by Space Exploration Technologies, was captured by astronauts aboard the orbital outpost.
“Looks like we’ve got us a Dragon by the tail,” NASA astronaut Don Pettit radioed to Mission Control in Houston after snagging the capsule at 9:56 a.m. EDT as the two spacecraft sailed 250 miles above northwest Australia.
Both were zipping along at 17,500 mph, but relative to each other, Dragon’s pace was slow, halting and methodical. At one point the capsule’s laser imaging system was picking up reflections from Japan’s laboratory module so ground control teams at SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, Calif., sent commands for Dragon to narrow its field of view.
“Congratulations on a wonderful capture,” astronaut Megan Behnken in Mission Control radioed to the station crew. “You’ve made a lot of people happy down here, over in Hawthorne and right here in Houston. Great job, guys.”
The capsule, which is loaded with about 1,200 pounds of food, clothing and supplies for the crew, is expected to be berthed onto a docking port later today. It will remain attached until May 31.
Image: Station’s robot arm has a dragon by the tail. Credit: NASA TV