Following a successful launch
on Tuesday–and a series of complex maneuvers demonstrating that it
could be controlled both from the ground and by the space crew–SpaceX‘s Dragon
capsule has just arrived at the International Space Station. It’s a
historic moment because it marks the first time a non-government
spacecraft has connected with another vehicle in space. (SpaceX’s CEO is Tesla’s Elon Musk.)
This latest maneuver was performed differently than the automated docking that the European ATV and Russian Soyuz craft employ: The ISS
crew captured the Dragon using the long Canadarm robotic manipulator
(like catching “a Dragon by the tail” as astronaut Don Pettit described
it). The crew will then maneuver the craft to be mated to the ISS’s docking
port, at which point its cargo can be ferried aboard. The hook-up marks
an important milestone in the U.S.’s ambitions for commercial space tech.
Update: NASA reports that the Dragon capsule has been manuevered to its docking port and successfully captured by the latch mechanisms on the ISS at 10:01 a.m. ET, effectively marking its berthing in space. The hatch will be opened soon, and then astronauts will later access the cargo.