May 27, 2012 in Nation/World

Astronauts unload Dragon

Los Angeles Times

Less than 24 hours after a historic docking, astronauts aboard the International Space Station clambered into SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon spacecraft and began unloading supplies that were packed inside.

Wearing oxygen masks as a precaution, the astronauts opened the hatch, slid the door open, and took delivery of the 1,014 pounds of food, water and clothing aboard Dragon.

“Like the smell of a brand new car,” NASA astronaut Don Pettit said after going inside.

Live coverage of the hatch opening, which included some of the first video footage from inside the cone-shaped Dragon, started Saturday shortly before 3 a.m. PDT on the Hawthorne, Calif., company’s website and NASA TV.

Delivering cargo wasn’t SpaceX’s key mission – the space station is well-provisioned. The main purpose was to demonstrate that the Dragon space capsule could rendezvous with the $100 billion orbiting outpost and link up with the space station’s onboard computers.

Those goals were achieved when the Dragon docked with the space station on Friday. It marked the first time a privately built and operated space capsule had done so.

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