On Saturday, commercial spacecraft Dragon launched from Cape Canaveral to bring supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Dragon was created by SpaceX, a private company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2002 with the goal of revolutionizing space travel and ultimately enabling people to live on Mars. This week’s mission marks Dragon’s fifth trip to the ISS.
Dragon is resupplying the space station and delivering materials that will support more than 250 experiments. For example, the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) instrument measures location, composition, and distribution of particulates in Earth’s atmosphere. It will help climatologists better understand airborne pollutants’ role in the global climate. The cargo even includes some live visitors to the ISS: flatworms and fruit flies which will help biologists study how immune systems are affected by space travel.
In the above video, watch the space station’s robotic arm grapple Dragon on Monday. The capture was maneuvered by Commander Barry “Butch” Willmore of NASA with the assistance of Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency. Dragon is scheduled to spend one month attached to the space station before it returns to Earth by splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near Baja California, Mexico. In the meantime, SpaceX continues to develop plans for Dragon to carry people to the ISS and beyond.