SpaceX Dragon visits the ISS

Dragon at ISSSpaceX launches its second Dragon unmanned cargo vehicle, this time as the first privately-owned spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. Carrying only supplies, equipment and experiments, the Dragon capsule carries out a program of closing to within a certain distance of the station and then slowly approaches until it is close enough to be grabbed by the station’s remote manipulator arm and attached to a docking port under the station crew’s control. The Expedition 31 astronauts aboard the station report that the interior of the capsule has a “new car smell” that is quite noticeable when compared to the atmosphere aboard the station. Over the course of a week, fresh cargo is unloaded into the station from the Dragon capsule, and cargo intended for return to Earth is loaded into the capsule. NASA is satisfied with the results and contracts SpaceX to begin routine cargo flights via Dragon later in the year.