Dragon Rendezvous With Station Set for Sunday

Dragon berthed at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Dragon berthed at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Statement — Sat, 02 Mar 2013 11:49:57 AM PST — International Space Station Program and SpaceX 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 6:01 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.

SpaceX officials reported to the multinational management team that all of Dragon’s systems are operating as planned in the wake of the temporary loss of three of four banks of thrusters after Dragon separated from the Falcon 9 rocket Friday. The time required to recover normal operation of all 18 Draco thrusters and verify their readiness caused the one-day delay.

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 TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple on Sunday, March 3 will begin at 3:00 a.m. Eastern time. Coverage of berthing operations on NASA TV will begin at 7:30 a.m.