Dragon On Course For The International Space Station

Dragon Rendezvous with the International Space Station
Image Credit: SpaceX

While a lot of attention has been drawn to the drama of the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Sunday night and the engine anomaly, the Dragon space craft is making steady progress toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday morning.

Day 2: Tuesday: Dragon Phasing – Approaching the Space Station

  • Coelliptic burn places Dragon in a circular orbit

Day 3: Wednesday: Height Adjustment Maneuvers to R-Bar and Grappling

  • (R-Bar – Radial Bar – is an imaginary line connecting station to the center of the Earth)
  • Height adjust burns start adjusting altitude higher toward station
  • COTS Ultra-high Frequency Communication Unit (CUCU) and on-board UHF communication system between Dragon
    and ISS is configured
  • Height adjust burn: Dragon begins burns that bring it within 2.5 km of station (go/no-go)
  • Dragon receives and sends information from/to the CUCU unit on station
  • Height adjust burn brings Dragon 1.2 km from station (go/no-go)
  • Height adjust burn carries Dragon into the station’s approach ellipsoid (go/no-go)
  • Dragon holds at 250 meters (go/no-go) for confirmation of proximity sensors targeting acquisition
  • Dragon begins R-Bar Approach
  • Dragon holds at 30 meters (go/no-go)
  • Dragon holds at capture point, 10 meters below the station (go/no-go)
  • Crew captures Dragon using the station’s robotic arm (SSRMS)
  • Dragon is attached to the station

Day 4: Thursday:

  • Hatch Opening

And from Facebook, SpaceX says:

Tonight, Dragon will make its final approach to the station, passing a series of GO/NO-GO points determined by both Mission Control in Houston and the SpaceX team in Hawthorne. It will also establish its close-range guidance systems, comprised of LIDAR and thermal imagers. If all goes according to plan, at approximately 5:30AM ET, Dragon will be permitted to enter the Keep-Out Sphere (KOS), an imaginary circle drawn 200 meters (656 feet) around the station that prevents the risk of collision, and continue its approach to the capture point. Grapple is currently targeted for 7-7:30AM ET; however, this time is variable. Live coverage will begin at 6:30AM ET at spacex.com/webcast

This means 3:30 AM Phoenix time with grappling scheduled for roughly 4:00 to 4:30 AM tomorrow morning.

Dragon Grappled by Canadarm on the the International Space Station
Image Credit: SpaceX

For greater detail on the process, see this post on the COTS 2,3 mission last May.


One thought on “Dragon On Course For The International Space Station

  1. Pingback: October 2012 « NSS Phoenix Space News

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s