At 5:31 am ET Sunday morning, International Space Station astronauts guided the Canadarm2 robotic arm to an earlier-than-scheduled grappling maneuver with the SpaceX Dragon capsule. The grapple was originally scheduled for 6:31 am ET.
The approach of the unmanned Dragon — carrying supplies as part of a NASA resupply contract to the space station — came after the private spaceflight company overcame problems with three of four thruster pods that cast the mission into doubt shortly after launch on Friday. It is thought that there was either a blockage in the pressurization system or a faulty valve.
With this issue far behind, the robotic arm will pull the capsule to berth with the station’s Harmony module approximately an hour after the Canadarm2 grappled with the Dragon, 10 meters from the space station. When the grappling maneuver was complete, mission managers from NASA and SpaceX congratulated each other on a job well done.
“It’s not where you start, but where you finish that counts, and you guys really finished this one on the mark,” space station commander Kevin Ford told NASA mission control in Houston, Texas, and SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, Calif. “You’re aboard, and we’ve got lots of science on there to bring aboard and get done. So congratulations to all of you.”
This is the second of 12 SpaceX resupply missions to the space station under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.