SpaceX Christmas Delivery Arrives at Space Station


Marcia Dunn, Associated Press

Posted Saturday, December 8, 2018 07:41 EST

CABO CANAVERAL, Fla. – A SpaceX delivery packed with Christmas gifts arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday after a slight delay caused by a communication failure.

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 that serves the space station. Failure of equipment in New Mexico to NASA's Satellite Data Retransmission and 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 Dragon guards everything the station's astronauts need for Christmas dinner, as well as mice and earthworms for scientific experiments, and more than 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) 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.

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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