April 21, 2014 in Nation/World

‘Easter Dragon’ arrives at space station

Marcia Dunn Associated Press
 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies.

The shipment arrived Sunday morning via a Dragon, versus a bunny.

“Gentlemen, the Easter Dragon is knocking at the door,” NASA’s Mission Control said as the capsule was bolted into place.

The SpaceX company’s cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. Astronauts used a robot arm to capture the capsule 260 miles above Egypt.

More than 2 tons of food, spacewalking gear and experiments fill the Dragon, including mating fruit flies, a little veggie hothouse and legs for the resident robot.

On Wednesday, the stakes will be even higher when the two Americans on board conduct a spacewalk to replace a dead computer. NASA wants a reliable backup in place as soon as possible, even though the primary computer is working fine. The backup failed April 11.

The SpaceX delivery wasn’t exactly express. The launch was delayed more than a month. A minor communication problem cropped up during Sunday’s rendezvous, but the capture still took place on time and with success.

SpaceX flight controllers, at company headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., exchanged high-fives, shook hands, applauded and embraced once Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata snared the Dragon with the station’s robot arm.

The capsule will remain attached until mid-May. It will be filled with science samples – including the flies – for return to Earth.

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