- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
Tamed Dragon supply ship arrives at space station
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A privately owned Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday, delivering a ton of supplies with high-flying finesse after a shaky start to the mission.
The Dragon’s arrival was one day late but especially sweet — and not because of the fresh fruit on board for the station astronauts who snared the capsule.
SpaceX, the California-based company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, had to struggle with the Dragon following its launch Friday from Cape Canaveral. A clogged pressure line or stuck valve prevented thrusters from working, and it took flight controllers several hours to gain control and salvage the mission.
In the end, the Dragon approached the orbiting lab with its 1-ton load about as smoothly as could be expected, with all of its thrusters, or little maneuvering rockets, operating perfectly. The capture occurred as the two spacecraft zoomed 250 miles above Ukraine.
“As they say, it’s not where you start, but where you finish that counts,” said space station commander Kevin Ford, “and you guys really finished this one on the mark.”
He added: “We’ve got lots of science on there to bring aboard and get done. So congratulations to all of you.”
Among the items on board: 640 seeds of a flowering weed used for research, mouse stem cells, food and clothes for the six men on board the space station, trash bags, computer equipment, air purifiers, spacewalking tools and batteries. The company also tucked away apples and other fresh treats from an employee’s family orchard.
The Dragon will remain at the space station for most of March before returning to Earth with science samples, empty food containers and old equipment.
This is the third time, however, that a Dragon has visited the space station. The previous two capsules had no trouble reaching their destination. Company officials promise a thorough investigation into what went wrong this time; if the thrusters had not been activated, the capsule would have been lost.
Mr. Ford said everything about Sunday’s rendezvous ended up being “fantastic.”
“There sure were some big smiles all around here,” NASA’s Mission Control replied from Houston.
The actual anchoring of the Dragon to the space station, 2½ hours after its arrival, also unfolded without a hitch.
“The Dragon is ours!” Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield announced via Twitter.
Mr. Musk, who helped create PayPal, acknowledged Friday that the problem — the first ever for an orbiting Dragon — was “frightening.” But he believed it was a one-time glitch and nothing so serious as to imperil future missions. The 41-year-old entrepreneur, who also runs the electric carmaker Tesla, oversaw the entire operation from Hawthorne, Calif., home to SpaceX and the company’s Mission Control.
The Dragon’s splashdown in the Pacific, meanwhile, remains on schedule for March 25.
NASA is counting on the commercial sector to supply the space station for the rest of this decade; it’s supposed to keep running until at least 2020. Russia, Europe and Japan are doing their part, periodically launching their own cargo ships. But none of those craft can return items as the Dragon can, since they burn up on re-entry.
Russia also is providing rides for U.S. astronauts.
NASA’s space shuttles, retired to museums after a 30-year run, used to be the main haulers for the space station. At the White House direction, the space agency opted out of the Earth-to-orbit transportation business in order to focus on deep space exploration. Mars is the ultimate destination.
TWT Video Picks
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Russian bombers buzz U.K. airspace; jets scrambled to chase off 'Bears'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014