How you can watch SpaceX's Dragon dock with the space station

You can have a ringside seat to witness the space station's robotic arm pull in Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft to visit the outpost. Time to watch is between 10 a.m. and noon EDT.

By , Staff writer

  • close
    In this photo made available by NASA, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo spacecraft approaches the International Space Station on Thursday, May 24, 2012 for a series of tests to clear it for its final rendezvous and grapple on Friday, May 25.
    View Caption

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is about to make history – and you can watch.

If all continues to go well, by about 10 a.m. EDT, the craft will have moved to within 10 meters of the International Space Station. Space station flight engineer Don Petitt, the mission's grappler-in-chief, will use the station's Canadian-made robotic arm to grasp Dragon.

To watch the history-making event and listen to the play-by-play, point your Web browser to NASA-TV at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html.

Recommended: Deliveries in space: the SpaceX mission

Although the process of grappling and berthing looks to be fairly simple, it isn't, notes astronaut Catherine Coleman, who grappled the Japanese HTV on its second supply mission to the station in January 2011. She likens it to trying to pass something from one car to another – when both are traveling at interstate speeds.

On orbit, it's a Grey Poupon moment at 17,500 miles per hour between one vehicle that weighs more than 1 million pounds and another weighing a tiny fraction of that. Still, Dragon can inflict a world of hurt on the station if something goes wrong. Hence the delicate touch Petitt must apply and the slow pace he'll use to pull Dragon to the station's docking port.

Flight controllers are trying to maintain a schedule that allows Dragon's capture and berthing to take place during the sunlit portions of the station's 90-minute orbits.

Share this story:
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...