Elon Musk and the team at SpaceX have been an integral part of the privatization and pursuit of space exploration. The most recent SpaceX innovations have largely been focused on their work with their Dragon Cargo Ships which have already showcased immense utility and ability to help facilitate recyclable travel for NASA. The Dragon cargo ship has been used to deliver payloads on behalf of NASA to the International Space Station two separate times, most recently making their delivery in time for the holidays. The Dragon Capsule is quickly proving that space exploration may not be constrained to just the work being done by NASA. Let’s dig in and look at how the Dragon cargo capsule has been so effective.
The most recent delivery to the International Space Station was fulfilled on Sunday, December 17th. The ship delivered almost 2 tons of supplies on behalf of NASA. The actual mechanics of collecting the cargo ship sounds like something fulled from ‘Interstellar’ and is equally exciting. The Dragon capsule was corralled by astronauts using a robotic arm. The robotic arm took hold of the Dragon capsule and pulled it into their reach at 5:57 AM EST while the ISS was floating between Papua New Guinea and Australia. Leslie Ringo, the communicator on the ISS, said, “It’s a great day to see Dragon back on ISS again.”
Joe Acaba is an astronaut for NASA and he, too, echoed the general optimism surrounding the Dragon capsule. Acaba said, “it’s a beautiful spacecraft and we’re looking forward to digging into it and getting some science on board.” Acaba was one of two astronauts who had the challenge of pulling the Dragon onboard. The other astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, was the person controlling the actual robotic arm.
Despite SpaceX’s constant spot in the news, this was actually only the second delivery by way of the Dragon since 2015. SpaceX developed the Dragon cargo ship in order to help reduce cost while improving the ability for NASA to recycle rockets. The goal was to make it easier for NASA to get back up into space without going through the red-tape riddled process of finding funding, building rockets, and getting them up and off the ground. The latest delivery had scientific supplies and equipment for the astronauts on board and it will stay there until sometime in January when the rocket will be sent to splash down in the Pacific Ocean for collection and re-use.