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Station Welcomes First Commercial Resupply Mission
Commander Suni Williams opens Dragon hatch

Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams opens the hatch to the SpaceX Dragon. Photo credit: NASA

Running well ahead of schedule, Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide opened the hatch to the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship at 1:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday, marking a milestone for the first commercial resupply mission to reach the International Space Station.

› View video of Dragon hatch opening

Hatch opening had been scheduled to occur on Thursday, but the crew sped through its post-berthing procedures, enabling the earlier entrance into the cargo ship.

Earlier, Hoshide, with the assistance of Williams, used the robotic arm from a workstation inside the station’s cupola to capture Dragon at 6:56 a.m. as the spacecraft flew within about 32 feet of the station.

SpaceX Dragon installation

The International Space Station's Canadarm2 installs the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. Credit: NASA TV

With Dragon securely in the grasp of Canadarm2, ground controllers remotely operated the arm to guide the capsule to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. Hoshide and Williams then swapped places at the controls of the robotics workstation, and Williams used the Canadian Space Agency-provided robotic arm to install Dragon to its docking port on Harmony at 9:03 a.m.

› View video of Dragon grapple and berthing

Dragon is scheduled to spend 18 days attached to the station. During that time, the crew will unload 882 pounds of crew supplies, science research and hardware from the cargo craft and reload it with 1,673 pounds of cargo for return to Earth. After Dragon’s mission at the station is completed, the crew will use Canadarm2 to detach Dragon from Harmony on October 28 and release it for a splashdown about six hours later in the Pacific Ocean, 250 miles off the coast of southern California.

Dragon launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 8:35 p.m. Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning NASA's first contracted cargo delivery flight, designated SpaceX CRS-1, to the station.

› Read more about the launch of Dragon
› View SpaceX Dragon CRS-1 Mission press kit