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SpaceX: A “Helpful Dragon” Is To Connect With ISS Today..!

The SpaceX cargo is cleared for its scheduled “meeting” with the International Space Station (ISS) today, after the problem in its propulsion system is fixed:

SpaceX cargo ship cleared for station capture – CBS News

The ISS Program and SpaceX’s managers Saturday gave the go-ahead for the SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle to rendezvous with the station on Sunday, March 3. The station’s Mission Management Team unanimously agreed that Dragon’s propulsion system is operating normally along with its other systems and ready to support the rendezvous two days after Friday’s launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon is scheduled to be captured Sunday at 6:31 a.m. EST by NASA Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn. Once grappled, Dragon will be installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module by ground experts at mission control in Houston. The cargo vehicle will be bolted into place through commands by Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency. The operation of time-critical scientific experiments being delivered to the station on Dragon will be reviewed during the course of berthed operations to ensure that all planned investigations are completed. Despite the one-day delay in Dragon’s arrival at the station, its unberthing, release and splashdown remain planned for Monday, March 25.

On their part, the ISS crew astronauts are ready to handle the cargo vehicle rendezvous with the ISS and if something is going wrong they are also prepared to abort the Dragon’s docking in the ISS:

SpaceX capsule cleared for space station approach – USA TODAY

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station planned to capture SpaceX’s cargo spacecraft early Sunday, a day later than planned after the commercial cargo carrier overcame propulsion system trouble early in its flight. Station managers on Saturday cleared the Dragon to approach the orbiting research complex after SpaceX reported that all 18 thrusters, and other systems, were operating normally. ”SpaceX said it has high confidence there will be no repeat of the thruster problem during rendezvous, including its capability to perform an abort, should that be required,” NASA said in a statement. Station commander Kevin Ford and crewmate Tom Marshburn planned to snare the Dragon with a 58-foot robotic arm around 6 a.m. EST Sunday. If successful, the capsule loaded with a ton of supplies, science experiments and hardware would be berthed to a station port about two hours later. The cargo vehicle had been expected to reach the outpost Saturday morning. But shortly after it reached orbit Friday, minutes after a flawless launch from Cape Canaveral on a Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX discovered three of the capsule’s four thruster pods had not activated properly. Engineers determined a line blockage or stuck valve had prevented several oxidizer tanks from pressurizing properly.

SpaceX Dragon  1

More importantly, the cargo spacecraft is carrying necessary supplies for the space crew needs and for carrying the experiments aboard the ISS laboratory:

Dragon to dock space station on Sunday morning – NASA – The Voice of Russia

On Friday shortly after the launch, the spacecraft experienced a problem with its thruster pods used for orbital maneuvers, but they were all fixed later and the spacecraft successfully performed a maneuver to raise its orbit. “The station’s Mission Management Team unanimously agreed that Dragon’s propulsion system is operating normally along with its other systems and ready to support the rendezvous two days after Friday’s launch,” NASA added. The cargo spacecraft is carrying 1,268 pounds (575 kg) of supplies for the space station crew and for experiments being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.

On the other hand, the problem with spacecraft’s Dragon thruster pods was a frightening experience as the oxidizer pressure in its three of four tanks was intially low, putting in extreme danger the docking operation with the ISS:

SpaceX Dragon Recovers from Frightening Propulsion System …

For several hours the outlook for the $133 million mission appeared dire, but gradually began to improve a few hours after launch. “It was a little frightening,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk at a Friday afternoon media briefing for reporters gathered at the Kennedy Space Center, commenting on the moments after the glitch appeared out of nowhere. “We noticed after separation that only one of the four thruster pods engaged or was ready to engage,” Musk explained. “And then we saw that the oxidizer pressure in three of the four tanks was low.”

Finally, the ISS crew is going to receive its valuable supplies and continue its space mission and experiments as the SpaceX Dragon module is expected to dock normally with the ISS.

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