SpaceX’s latest International Space Station Resupply mission has completed its latest step, with the Dragon capsule launched on Monday loaded with over 6,400 pounds of supplies successfully docked. Dragon met up with the ISS early Wednesday morning, roughly 36 hours after launching from Kennedy Space Center aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
The Dragon capsule, whose payload includes experiments including a novel software-hardened HP supercomputer designed for eventual use in a Mars mission, was captured by the ISS’s robotic Canadarm appendage after matching orbit with the ISS as planned. The capsule will now remain docked at the ISS for roughly a month, as astronauts work to unload its cargo of supplies and experiments.
Dragon will also be reloaded with 3,000 pounds of cargo destined for a return to Earth, including experimental results being ferried back for examination by researchers and scientists on the ground. The capsule will de-orbit and then splash down in the Pacific Ocean for recovery if all goes as planned.
This is the last new Dragon capsule SpaceX will use for ISS resupply, if all goes to the private space company’s plan: from here out, SpaceX hopes to use only refurbished, reused Dragons it has flown and recovered before to run CRS missions for NASA.