Only 38 hours after blasting past the atmosphere aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on April 2, SpaceX’s CRS-14 Dragon capsule successfully docked at the International Space Station Wednesday at 9 a.m. Eastern. It took thousands of thruster firings to perfectly position the flight-proven spacecraft in reach of the space station’s giant mechanical arm. But after almost three hours of orbital ballet, it managed to attach itself to the space station in a major step towards completing Expedition 55.
The Dragon carried about 5,800-pounds worth of supplies and scientific experiments to the ISS. The supplies will aid in renovating the space station and sustaining the six crewmembers currently on board. While the experiments will add to the 280 investigations already occurring on board of the orbiting laboratory.
One would think that once the Dragon is docked the hard part is over, but the crew now has to begin the month-long task of unloading all of the tech inside of the capsule. Think of that when you’re complaining about unpacking after an extended vacation.
The ISS provides a unique space for research institutions and companies to conduct tests in microgravity environments, something that’s difficult to pull off on Earth. These experiments will be a large portion of what the ISS crew will be hauling out of the Dragon.
These include a box-shaped space junk cleaner that will test three different ways to clean up lower Earth orbit and system called “Veggie PONDS,” which hopes to improve how quickly vegetables can be grown in space for future space colonies.
Aside from the daily burden of making sure the ISS is intact and operational, the crew has to monitor and set most of these experiments into action. Proving that working aboard the orbital station is just like participating in a grown-up science fair.