SpaceX ship arrives at space station with gifts, B.C. experiment
Student experiment destroyed when Antares rocket exploded in October
A shipment of much-needed groceries, belated Christmas presents and a science experiment from a group of B.C. schoolchildren finally arrived Monday morning at the International Space Station.
The SpaceX company's supply ship, Dragon, pulled up at the orbiting lab two days after its liftoff. Station commander Butch Wilmore used a robot arm to grab the capsule and its 2,300 kilograms (5,000 pounds) of precious cargo, as the craft soared more than 420 kilometers (260 miles) above the Mediterranean.
The space station's six astronauts were getting a little low on supplies. That's because the previous supply ship — owned by another company — was destroyed in an October launch explosion. NASA scrambled to get replacement equipment aboard Dragon, as did schoolchildren who rustled up new science projects.
Then Dragon was stalled a month by rocket snags; it should have reached the space station well before Christmas.
Mission Control joked about missing not only the December shipment date, but Eastern Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7 as well.
"We're excited to have it on board," Wilmore said. "We'll be digging in soon."
He's especially eager to get more mustard. The station's condiment cabinet is empty.
The shipment included a new versions of science projects conceived by schoolchildren, including a group from B.C.
Four boys from McGowan Park Elementary School in Kamloops won a contest last year to have their experiment join 17 other student projects on a trip to the station.
The original was destroyed when an Antares rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corp. exploded during its launch last October, The new version's journey into space was also delayed when a launch was scrubbed last week.
The project will examine how zero-gravity affects the growth of crystals.
Student Hunter Galbraith says the students felt thrilled to be able to rebuild the project since they were actually able to modify it and make the experiment better.
NASA is paying SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. for shipments. Orbital's rockets are grounded until next year, however, because of its launch accident. SpaceX is picking up as much slack as it can. Russia and Japan also plan deliveries this year.
SpaceX examines data from failed rocket-landing test
SpaceX is still poring over data from Saturday's rocket-landing test, the first of its kind.
After the first stage of the Falcon rocket peeled away as planned following liftoff, it flew back to a giant platform floating off the Florida coast. The guidance fins on the booster ran out of hydraulic fluid, however, right before touchdown, and it landed hard and broke into pieces.
- SpaceX fails rocket landing at sea after launching resupply mission to ISS
The California company's billionaire founder, Elon Musk, was encouraged nonetheless and plans another rocket-landing test next month.
With files from the Canadian Press
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