SpaceX’s fifth resupply mission is a success. The Dragon capsule attached itself to the International Space Station just a few hours ago. It will remain there for the next four weeks.
The Dragon capsule got a hand from ISS commander Butch Wilmore. Using the ISS’ robotic arm, Wilmore grabbed the capsule and secured it. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti also assisted Wilmore in securing the capsule.
More than 5,000 pounds of food, parts and scientific experiments are on board the capsule.
A few living things from Earth made the trip aboard the Dragon capsule. One experiment will look at how microgravity impacts wound-healing abilities of flatworms. Another will look at how plants grow in space.
One notable instrument that made the trip is NASA’s CATS (Cloud-Aerosol Transport System). This instrument will be attached to the station’s exterior and will monitor clouds, dust and pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere.
On February 10th, the Dragon capsule will make its way back to Earth. It won’t burn up in the atmosphere though. The capsule will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of California. SpaceX officials will then retrieve it.
SpaceX Nearly Landed the First Stage of Falcon 9
The biggest highlight of the mission was the attempted landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.
The first stage did reach the automatic drone ship, but landed too hard. “Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future though,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote in a tweet.
It looks like the grid fins needed just a little bit more hydraulic fluid. Musk says his company has already addressed that with the next flight having 50% more hydraulic fluid. SpaceX will give it another go next month.