At 10:06am Eastern time, the SpaceX Dragon successfully berthed with the International Space Station, marking the fourth time that one of the company’s Dragon spacecraft has made the trip successfully.
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The spacecraft made a series of several engine burns in the wee hours of the morning to make its approach. At around 7:14am EST, the space station’s robotic arm grappled onto the Dragon and brought it close to the station’s Harmony module. The arm was controlled by Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and NASA’s Rick Mastracchio.
The Dragon craft is loaded with nearly 5000 tons of supplies for the space station. In addition to supplies for the astronauts, the spacecraft is also loaded with a number of scientific experiments, including a space garden and a smartphone powered satellite. (You can read more about the scientific experiments on board Dragon here.)
The docking wasn’t the only successful part of SpaceX’s launch. It was also making its first test of its Falcon 9′s reusable first stage – a step towards the company’s goal of a reusable rocket. According to SpaceX, the first stage of the rocket did successfully make the engine burns that allowed it to land safely in the Atlantic Ocean for recovery. That’s a big win for the company, since it gave this part of the mission a 30-40% chance of success.
And that part of the flight, believe it or not, wasn’t the only success that SpaceX announced for its reusable rocket program this week. Earlier this week, the company tested its reusable Falcon 9 rocket on the ground in New Mexico. That flight had a successful lift off, the rocket then hovered for a few seconds at an altitude of 250m, then safely landed back on the ground.
You can watch a video of the reusable rocket launch below:
And here’s a video of the Dragon launching to the International Space Station: