Dragon Capsule Docked with ISS

And there was much rejoicing

1 min read
Dragon Capsule became the first commercial space vehicle to dock with the International Space Station.

Dragon Capsule became the first commercial space vehicle to dock with the International Space Station.

At 11:02 Houston time, SpaceX made history as its Dragon Capsule became the first commercial space vehicle to dock with the International Space Station.

The step, which controllers were calling "second stage capture" followed the station's catching the orbiting capsule with its robotic arm at 9:56, maneuvering it into position, pushing it into the station's Earth-facing port, and releasing the tension on the robotic arm.

A successful docking is proof that the shift toward privatizing space flight is possible. But, don't forget that Dragon has to make it back to earth safely with 650 kg of ISS gear on board. And it will still probably be years before SpaceX is ferrying humans into space.

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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