ISS crew spots Dragon stalking them from low orbit

The tiny little black dot in the lower left of this picture is the SpaceX Dragon capsule with its solar panel unfurled, performing a "fly-under" about a mile beneath the International Space Station. After Tuesday's flawless launch, Dragon is now maneuvering for berthing with the station on Friday.


Unlike automated transfer vehicles that have been supplying the ISS until now, Dragon won't be autonomously docking itself directly with the ISS. Instead, it'll fly itself within a stone's throw of the station and then cut its engines, while the station's Canadarm2 reaches out and grabs it. Canadarm2 will then pull Dragon over to the U.S. segment of the station and berth it manually.


Once Dragon is secured on Friday morning, it'll be pressurized with air from the station, and on Saturday, astronauts will begin unloading 1,100 pounds of food, clothing, and whatever other supplies SpaceX and NASA decided to send up. Over the next five days, all those supplies will be replaced with station experiments and broken equipment, which Dragon will bring back to Earth in an Apollo-style splash landing in the Pacific on May 31.

NASA, via New Scientist

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