The Dragon spacecraft launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket on the SpaceX-2 commercial resupply mission March 1 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Two days later Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn captured the Dragon just 32 feet away from the station with the Canadarm2. Ground controllers then took over Canadarm2 operations and berthed Dragon to the Harmony node.
Hatches to the commercial cargo craft were opened about four hours later beginning three weeks of cargo transfer activities. Station crew members swapped 1,200 pounds of cargo delivered to the station with 2,600 pounds of gear to be returned to Earth.
Dragon’s rendezvous with the station was delayed by a day after three of four thrusters did not fire as commanded. SpaceX engineers resolved the problem and continued Dragon’s mission to the station after consultation with NASA managers.
A third SpaceX commercial resupply services mission is targeted for launch at the end of September.
Dragon originally performed two demonstration flights, the first in December 2010 for just two orbits and the second in May 2012. The second Dragon demonstration mission actually arrived at the space station, delivered non-essential cargo and stayed for six days after three days of approach and rendezvous tests. Its first official resupply mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract was in October 2012 during Expedition 33 and lasted three weeks.