Yesterday SpaceX made history by sending the first commercial cargo ship into orbit on a mission to resupply the International Space Station! Resting aboard a Falcon 9 booster, the Dragon cargo carrier took flight on October 7th at 8:30pm ET from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Commercial space exploration is here!
Carrying 1,995 lbs of cargo, the Dragon is scheduled to meet up with the ISS on Tuesday and this is only one of the twelve contracted flights that Dragon is scheduled to make to the ISS. Over the next few days the unmanned Dragon will adjust itself to “park” within 10 meters of the ISS.
"We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission," said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technical Officer, SpaceX. "We still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon's approach to the space station. But we are thrilled that Dragon was launched successfully into its intended orbit."
Once Dragon is within range of the ISS, crew member Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will grab the Dragon using a robotic arm to guide it to a docking port. The commercial cargo container will be unloaded by the crew and spend over two weeks docked with the ISS before it returns to Earth on October 28th.
The cargo being sent to ISS includes materials to support investigations planned for the station's Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies, rations and space station hardware. Though this isn't the Dragon's first time meeting up with the space station, it is the first time it's transported a full load there and the first time it will return to Earth with scientific materials and space station hardware.