Canadian astronaut catches SpaceX capsule using Canadarm

Pablo Tucker
May 9, 2019

The uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft containing 5,500 pounds of supplies, hardware and materials, including more than 250 science and research investigations to take place on the ISS, was captured by the station's robotic arm at 4:01 a.m. PT Monday morning.

Mr Saint-Jacques later described to NASA colleagues on Earth it was "a big moment of pride" to grab the Dragon using the station's 58ft (18m) robot arm. An external cable that normally comes off during launch dangled from the capsule, but it did not interfere with the grappling.

"We're really excited to get Dragon on board in a couple of days".

He became the first Canadian to use it to grab a visiting spacecraft - "a cosmic catch", in the words of the Canadian Space Agency. "Way to make it look easy".

The experiments arriving at the space station include equipment for research that aims to show how microalgae can be used with existing life support systems on the ISS to improve the recycling of resources. This time, the cargo craft blasted off from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral (the state of Florida) with the help of a Falcon-9 launch vehicle.

This including a sophisticated instrument that will be mounted on a deck outside the Japanese Kibo lab module to monitor carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere.

Dragon will be bolted to the spacecraft for about a month for unloading and repacking with around 2,000 pounds for the return trip, said Leah Cheshier, a NASA Mission Control communications specialist.

The delivery was a few days late because of electrical power shortages that cropped up first at the space station, then at SpaceX's rocket-landing platform in the Atlantic. SpaceX's spacecraft is one of six spaceships now docked with the ISS, joining Russia's Progress 71 and 72 resupply ships, the Soyuz MS-11 and MS-12 crew ships, and the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter. It's the only cargo ship capable of coming back intact.

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