“What a fantastic day,” Ford said.
Once Dragon’s hatch is open, the station crew will spend the next several days unpacking the food, clothing, supplies and science experiments from the capsule. The research includes studies on plant seedlings, mouse stem cells and combustion in microgravity.
SpaceX also sent the crew a gift of fresh fruit from an employee’s father’s orchard, company president Gwynne Shotwell said.
Ground controllers will use the station’s robot arm again on Wednesday to unpack equipment for a future spacewalk that is stowed in Dragon’s unpressurized trunk.
Once the capsule is unloaded, the crew will begin refilling it with 3,000 pounds (1,361 kg) of unneeded and broken equipment and science samples for analysis on Earth.
Dragon is the only station freighter that makes return trips, a critical service that was lost after the U.S. shuttle program ended in 2011. Cargo ships flown by Russia, Europe and Japan incinerate in the atmosphere after leaving the station
Dragon’s departure and parachute splashdown in the Pacific Ocean is scheduled for March 25.
Dragon’s flight is the second of 12 missions for privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, under a $1.6 billion NASA contract. Following a successful test flight to the space station in May 2012, SpaceX conducted its first supply run to the orbital outpost in October.
A second firm, Orbital Sciences Corp is due to debut its freighter this year.