For the first time in history, a commercially-developed and -launched spacecraft is now attached to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Dragon cargo capsule, which was built in Hawthorne, Calif. by Space Exploration Technologies — or SpaceX — was berthed to the Earth-facing side of the orbiting complex Friday morning (May 25), three days after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and about two hours after astronauts used the station's robotic arm to capture the unmanned spacecraft.
NASA astronaut Don Pettit, working with European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers at the robotic work station in the station's cupola, positioned the Dragon at the Harmony node's nadir port so NASA astronaut Joe Acaba could bolt the spacecraft onto Harmony through the commands he issued from a laptop computer while in the Destiny laboratory.
The two-stage capture, which secured the 16 bolts that will hold Dragon on the side of the station, was completed at 11:02 a.m. CDT (1602 GMT) on Friday (May 25), marking the Dragon's berthing three days, eight hours and 18 minutes into its mission.
Now that the Dragon is part of the station, the orbiting laboratory's crew will work to open the hatches separating the two spacecraft and begin unpacking the capsule of its supplies on Saturday. The Dragon has aboard about 1,000 pounds (460 kilograms) of cargo, including students' science experiments and food for the station's six-person crew.