Capturing a dragon


ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson in the Cupola observatory using the International Space Station’s 16-m robotic arm to grapple the SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship.

The video is sped up 20 times with this recording lasting 45 minutes 30 seconds at normal speed. It shows Shane and Thomas monitoring the spacecraft’s approach scanning the monitors, ready to step in if necessary. Thomas took manual control of the robotic arm and extended it to grapple the vehicle when 11 m from the Station. The Dragon CRS-10 flight was launched on 19 February 2017 and berthed with the Space Station four days later.

The spacecraft carried over 1500 kg of supplies including NASA’s Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment, or SAGE III, to monitor aerosols, ozone and other gases in Earth’s high atmosphere by looking at the sunlight and moonlight as they pass through. SAGE III is mounted on ESA’s Hexapod – a six-legged tracker that points the facility in the right direction.

Inside the spacecraft was also France’s CNES space agency Fluidics experiment to probe how fluids behave in weightlessness.
Thomas is spending six months on the International Space Station as part of his Proxima mission. During Proxima, Thomas will perform around 50 scientific experiments for ESA and France’s space agency CNES as well as take part in many research activities for the other Station partners.

The mission is part of ESA’s vision to use Earth-orbiting spacecraft as a place to live and work for the benefit of European society while using the experience to prepare for future voyages of exploration further into the Solar System.

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