Report from Headquarters

SpaceX Makes History as Dragon Docks with ISS

Written by: developer

Space Foundation Corporate Member SpaceX celebrated historic success with the May 22 launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and May 25 docking of the Dragon spacecraft at the International Space Station (ISS). 

The ISS Expedition 31 crew successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the station’s robotic arm at 9:56 a.m. EDT on May 25. The accomplishment came three days, six hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds after the mission’s launch. The station was 251 miles over northwest Australia when capture occurred.

After more than five days berthed to the ISS, the Dragon spacecraft was released and began its return to Earth. It splashed down on May 31 a few hundred miles west of Baja California. It was taken by boat to a port near Los Angeles for transport to the SpaceX test facility in McGregor, Texas.

“SpaceX not only successfully launched the first commercial space transportation vehicle to dock with the International Space Station, but also marked a place in history that will forever be remembered as the true commercialization of space — the pivotal moment when private industry replaced government to form the new space economy,” said Space Foundation Senior Vice President — Strategic Partnerships Elizabeth Wagner. “We salute SpaceX for its groundbreaking accomplishment, and look forward to the innovation and space technology advancements this paradigm shift will enable.”

SpaceX has a contract with NASA to fly 12 cargo delivery runs to the ISS over the coming years.

Pictured: the SpaceX Dragon berthed to the International Space Station’s Harmony module (courtesy of NASA)

This article is part of Space Watch: June 2012 (Volume: 11, Issue: 6).