A SpaceX supply ship bringing Christmas goodies has arrived at the International Space Station, parking alongside another Dragon capsule that carried up astronauts three weeks ago.
It is the first time Elon Musk’s company has two Dragons at the orbiting lab, filling both available slots.
Unlike SpaceX’s previous cargo carriers, which had to be plucked from orbit by the space station’s robot arm, this larger and updated model docked all by itself a day after rocketing into orbit from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre.
The Dragons are in the lair!— NASA (@NASA) December 7, 2020
In this view, check out the two spacecrafts attached to the @Space_Station at the same time.
â¬ï¸Cargo Dragon is on the top of your screen
â¬ ï¸Crew Dragonâs nose cone is peeking out to your left: pic.twitter.com/zDtZu8ibEn
This unusually large shipment — exceeding 2,900 kilograms — includes experiments, equipment, Christmas presents and the makings for a holiday feast for the seven station astronauts.
The crew monitored all the action as the capsule pulled up and docked at the station more than 260 miles above the Indian Ocean.
The two Dragon parking spots are just 15 feet or so apart.
Nasa astronaut Kate Rubins offered “a huge congratulations” to SpaceX and everyone else involved.
Success! At 1:40pm ET, @SpaceX's upgraded Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the @Space_Station.— NASA (@NASA) December 7, 2020
🐉 This is the 1st automated docking for a SpaceX cargo resupply mission & the 1st time two Dragon spacecraft are on station simultaneously: pic.twitter.com/Qj6n9KLnxO
“It’s pretty amazing to think that less than a month ago you docked four crew members,” radioed Ms Rubins, a microbiologist and one of four Americans on board.
“And now you’re bringing a vehicle full of world class science for us to execute.”
The crew also includes two Russians and one Japanese.
SpaceX redesigned its cargo ships to be as big as its spacious crew capsules in order to pack more in.
The cargo Dragon will remain at the space station for a month, before parachuting into the Atlantic with science samples and discarded gear. The crew Dragon will stay up until spring.