SpaceX Dragon Opens at ISS

Posted May 26th, 2012 at 6:45 am (UTC-5)
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The astronauts on board the International Space Station have opened the Dragon capsule, a privately-owned spacecraft created by the U.S. corporation SpaceX.

The astronauts opened the cargo-filled Dragon Saturday morning.

One of the astronauts commented that the inside of the capsule smelled like “a brand new car.”

The capsule docked at the station Friday after the astronauts used the station's robotic arm to grab it.

The Dragon will remain linked with the ISS for a week so the station's crew can unload more than 500 kilograms of supplies and reload it with used equipment to be sent back to Earth.

Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin said the Dragon's docking demonstrates “continued American leadership in space.”

The docking of the privately-owned craft begins a new phase in the U.S. space program after the space agency, NASA, retired its shuttle fleet last year.

NASA's space staion program manager, Mike Suffredini, said the way SpaceX built, tested and flew the spacecraft has been “remarkable.”

SpaceX chief executive and billionaire Elon Musk said Friday “there was so much that could have gone wrong, and it went right.”

NASA is turning to SpaceX and other private companies to ferry supplies, and eventually astronauts, to the space station, taking over for the now-retired shuttles.

Russia, Japan, and Europe have the capability to resupply the ISS, but Russia's Soyuz spacecraft is the only vehicle currently able to transport astronauts to the outpost.