Christmas delivery arrives at space station



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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – A SpaceX delivery packed with Christmas presents arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday, after a brief delay caused by a drop in communication.

The Dragon capsule stopped in the orbital lab three days after the launch of Cape Canaveral. Commander Alexander Gerst used the spacecraft's large robotic arm to grab the cargo carrier while the two vessels climbed 250 miles above the Pacific.

It took two attempts to get the Dragon close enough to be captured.

NASA canceled the Dragon's first approach because of problems with the communications network serving the space station. Equipment failure in New Mexico for NASA's Satellite Data Tracking and Retransmission system resulted in a temporary loss of communication with the station. For security, Mission Control ordered the Dragon to back it up.

It was a two hit – just an hour and a half late – after NASA switched to another TDRS satellite.

The Hanging Dragon contains everything the station's astronauts need for Christmas dinner, as well as mice and worms for scientific experiments, and more than 5,000 pounds of station equipment.

Holiday food includes smoked turkey, green bean casserole, candied yams, cranberry sauce and fruitcake. There are also shortbread and butter cookies, with frosting tubes to decorate.

Three of the space station residents will be on board for Christmas; the other three will return to Earth on December 20. Until then, the station houses two Americans, two Russians, one Canadian and Gerst, who is German.

It is the second visit of the space station for this recycled dragon; It was there last year too.

The first stage reinforcement used at Wednesday's launch is back to the port, after landing at sea instead of at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX towed the booster to the coast for possible future reuse, as well as an investigation into what went wrong.

SpaceX has been doing station loading for NASA since 2012. This is its 16th installment under contract.

Two other supply ships are connected to the space station: one Russian and one shipped by NASA's other commercial shipper, Northrop Grumman.

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