“They are making good solid progress,” Gerstenmaier said of Orbital. “We need both companies. We can’t do it with SpaceX alone.”
Prior to capture, Dragon reached a series of “hold points” at 350, 250, 30 and 10 meters (1,148, 820, 98 and 33 ft.) below the station, arriving 10 to 15 min. early each time. Each “go” to advance from NASA’s Mission Control followed quickly, making the complex operation seem almost leisurely at times.
“It’s nice to see Dragon flying over the U.S.,” Williams noted as Dragon closed within 250 meters of the station prior to the capture.
Williams and Hoshide plan to extract a multi-national cargo of food, clothing, research gear and spare parts weighing nearly 1,000 lb. The capsule will be re-loaded with nearly 1,600 lb. of equipment, including nearly 500 frozen blood and urine samples collected from crew members and stored in a freezer since the final NASA shuttle visit in July 2011.
The specimens are crucial to a range of experiments evaluating metabolic changes experienced by astronauts during long-duration spaceflight.
Dragon’s departure is scheduled for Oct. 28. SpaceX recovery ships will be standing by in the Pacific Ocean off the Southern California coast to bring the capsule ashore.