NASA released a stunning video showing the moment when the International Space Station (ISS) used its robotic arm to capture SpaceX's Dragon capsule in space. The maneuver was carried out for SpaceX's latest resupply mission to the station.
Footage of the incredible moment was shared on YouTube by the channel SciNews. It showed the Dragon capsule as it prepared to unload around 4,200 kilograms worth of scientific experiments and supplies to the ISS.
Capturing The Dragon Spacecraft
The video shows SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule flying along with the ISS over Earth. According to Leah Cheshier, the public affairs officer for NASA, the capsule and the space station were flying over the tip of South Africa at the start of the video.
A few moments later, the Dragon spacecraft started using its thrusters to position itself in preparation for the capture procedure. The ISS' robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, was being controlled by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, who is currently the only woman in space and aboard the ISS. She was joined by fellow NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan as a back-up.
Momentous Moment For Dragon
As soon as the ISS and the Dragon capsule were at the right positions, Meir carefully took control of the robotic arm to capture the spacecraft. The astronaut noted that the Dragon's resupply mission, known as CRS-20, was significant in a number of ways. For one, it served as the last flight of the Dragon spacecraft, which SpaceX is retiring in favor of its newer second-generation capsule, which will also have the same name. Also, the mission marked the last time a spacecraft was captured by the Canadaarm2. Meir noted that future space vessels would be able to dock with the ISS directly.
"The SpaceX 20 mission is a milestone for several reasons," she said in the video after successfully securing the Dragon capsule with the robotic arm. "It is of course the 20th SpaceX cargo mission, but it is also the last SpaceX cargo vehicle captured by the Canadarm, as future vehicles will automatically dock to the space station. It is also the last cargo vehicle that will visit during our current crew's time on the space station."