Astronauts from the International Space Station boarded the first commercial supply ship to carry cargo into space today, MSNBC reported. The Dragon space capsule, designed by Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), docked on Friday.
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NASA astronaut Don Pettit radioed from inside the Dragon that the capsule smells like a new car and has about as much cargo space as his pickup truck in Houston, MSNBC reported. "I spent quite a bit of time poking around in here this morning, just looking at the engineering and the layout, and I'm very pleased," Pettit said, according to MSNBC.
Over the next few days, the six ISS astronauts will spend unloading 1,000 pounds of food, clothes, batteries and other supplies from the Dragon and reloading it with 1,400 pounds' worth of experiment results and other gear to take back to Earth, MSNBC reported.
The Dragon is due to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on May 31, Space.com reported.
The Dragon’s first delivery is a test, conducted under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation (COTS) program, of whether the US space agency can depend on private companies to ferry cargo, and eventually people, to and from the space station, Space.com reported. Currently, only Russia’s Soyuz capsules are transporting astronauts and supplies in both directions.
SpaceX, has secured a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to fly 12 Dragon capsules to the space station, Space.com reported.
"We all remember the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which opened up the western frontier of the United States and it was celebrated by pounding in a golden spike," Pettit said, according to Space.com. "This is sort of the equivalent of the golden spike."
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