On Sunday morning, NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba used the ISS robotic arm to grab hold of SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule for the second time. The Dragon Capsule returns to the ISS after leaving in May 2015.
Despite traveling at a blistering 17,150 miles per hour, the ISS and Dragon docking video almost like slow motion.
“It’s a great day to see Dragon back on ISS again,” spacecraft communicator Leslie Ringo said to the ISS crew from Mission Control in Houston.
Onboard, is more than 4,800 pounds worth of science experiments and supplies to keep the ISS running smoothly for the next few months. The ISS crew will spend the next month or so unpacking the new cargo and packing in about 3,600 pounds worth of research for the return trip to Earth according to NASA.
New experiments brought to the ISS range from fiber optic testing to keeping an eye on orbital debris and tracking the sun’s energy input to Earth.
Optical Fiber Production in Microgravity could pave the way for better fiber optic products back here on Earth. The experiment will focus on pulling fiber optic wire from ZBLAN, a metal fluoride glass. Back here on Earth, ZBLAN’s atomic structure usually solidifies into crystals. Research suggests ZBLAN fiber pulled in microgravity doesn’t crystallize as often. The ISS crew will put this research to the test.
Space Debris Sensor (SDS) is pretty much what it sounds like. It’ll keep constant tabs of the orbital debris around the space station for the next two to three years. The data gathered here could help space agencies on the ground and the ISS crew reduce the risk posed by all the space junk floating high above Earth.
Tracking Earth’s Sunshine from Space (TSIS-1) joins other satellites that have continuously monitored the sun’s energy input to Earth since 1978. TSIS-1 brings much more accurate sensors and will help us better understand the sun’s influence on Earth. From the ozone layer to clouds and more.
Rodent Research-6 (RR-6) is part of scientists ongoing battle to fight the effects of space travel on muscles. Two sets of 20 mice will live aboard the ISS for one and two months. One group will be treated with a compound designed to maintain muscle in microgravity. The other group will act as the control. Results from this experiment will add to the growing knowledge on how to keep the human body healthy in zero-g environment. And will also be used in understanding muscle-related diseases, disorders, and injuries back on Earth.
Watch this incredible angle of Falcon 9’s first stage landing
After helping launch the 4,800+ pounds of supplies, the Falcon 9’s first stage came back for the flashy part of each SpaceX mission. Landing. And the footage doesn’t get much better than this.
Watch the two stages separate at about 2:40 in the video above. The best footage comes after 3:40. Crank the sound up for the sonic boom at 4:56.
As for the ISS? The space station is back to its usual six-person crew after the Soyuz capsule carrying NASA’s Scott Tingle, Roscosmos’ Anton Shkaplerov, and JAXA’s Norishige Kanai docked this morning.