SpaceX shipment arrives at International Space Station following weekend launch.A SpaceX shipment arrived at the International Space Station on Monday with a “cosmic catch” by a pair of Canadians. The Dragon capsule delivered 5,500 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of equipment and experiments.
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques used the station’s big robot arm — also made in Canada — to capture the Dragon approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the North Atlantic Ocean. An external cable that normally comes off during launch dangled from the capsule, but it did not interfere with the grappling.
“Welcome on board, Dragon,” Saint-Jacques radioed. He congratulated ground teams for their help, in both English and French. Saint-Jacques later told Canadian schoolchildren it was “a big moment of pride” to grab the Dragon using the station’s 58-foot (18-meter) robot arm — Canada’s main contribution to the space station.
He became the first Canadian to use it to grab a visiting spacecraft — “a cosmic catch,” in the words of the Canadian Space Agency. “To be at the controls myself, after all these years of training, it was a very, very special moment — and, fortunately, it all went well,” Saint-Jacques told the schoolchildren later in the day.
It’s the second station visit for this recycled Dragon, which was launched by SpaceX on Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It also flew in 2017. This is SpaceX’s 17th delivery to the space station; the first was in 2012. Northrop Grumman is NASA’s other shipper; its Cygnus cargo ship arrived just two weeks ago.
The Dragon will remain about a month, being filled with science samples for return to Earth. It’s the only cargo ship capable of coming back intact. Besides one Canadian, the space station is home to three Americans and two Russians. (VOA)
Unveiling his plans for the Starship rocket, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that the reusable launch system designed to take humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond could fly with crew next year.
“I think we could potentially see people fly next year, if we get to orbit in about six months,” Musk said during a presentation on the company’s progress towards making interplanetary travel a reality on Saturday which marked the 11th anniversary of SpaceX reaching orbit for the first time.
The ever-optimistic tech billionaire, however, added that much would depend on the continued improvements in building the rockets.
Building reusable rockets is fundamental to making space travel a reality, he said at the event held at SpaceX’s South Texas test site.
“It’s the holy grail of space travel,” he said, while standing beneath Starship Mk1, a prototype for the SpaceX launch system.
“To date, we’ve completed 78 launches and have developed the world’s only operational reusable orbital class rockets and spacecraft – capable of launching to space, returning to Earth, and flying again,” SpaceX said.
The company said that Starship will ultimately carry as many as 100 people on long-duration, interplanetary flights.
SpaceX is building Starship with a mission to provide affordable delivery of significant quantities of cargo and people, essential for building Moon bases and Mars cities.
“Starship serves as a large, long-duration spacecraft capable of carrying passengers or cargo to Earth orbit, planetary destinations, and between destinations on Earth,” SpaceX said.
However, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Friday reminded SpaceX that it was time to deliver the Crew Dragon spacecraft designed to fly crew to and from the International Space Station.