Humbled Dragon Docks With ISS

Capsule had suffered glitch after takeoff, SpaceX salvages mission

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 3, 2013 5:24 AM CST

(Newser) – The Dragon capsule arrived safely at the International Space Station today, delivering a ton of supplies, after a shaky, nerve-wracking start to its mission. The Dragon's arrival was one day late but especially sweet—and not because of the fresh fruit on board for the station astronauts who snared the capsule. SpaceX struggled with the Dragon following its Friday launch, after a clogged pressure line or stuck valve prevented the Dragon's thrusters from working, and it took flight controllers several hours to gain control and salvage the mission.

In the end, the Dragon approached the orbiting lab with its 1-ton load about as smoothly as could be expected, with all of its thrusters operating perfectly. The capture occurred as the two spacecraft zoomed nearly 250 miles above Ukraine. "As they say, it's not where you start, but where you finish that counts," said space station commander Kevin Ford, "and you guys really finished this one on the mark."
Among the items on board: 640 seeds of a flowering weed used for research, mouse stem cells, food and clothes for the six men on board the space station, trash bags, computer equipment, air purifiers, spacewalking tools and batteries.The Dragon will remain at the space station for most of March before returning to Earth with science samples, empty food containers and old equipment.

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Friday, March 1, 2013.
The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Friday, March 1, 2013.   (AP Photo/John Raoux)
SpaceX's Dragon is grappled by the International Space Station's robotic arm in this Oct. 10, 2012, file photo. The capsule docked early today after a troubled launch.
SpaceX's Dragon is grappled by the International Space Station's robotic arm in this Oct. 10, 2012, file photo. The capsule docked early today after a troubled launch.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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