1329 GMT (9:29 a.m. EDT)
All 16 bolts in the common berthing mechanism have driven to create a firm connection between Dragon and the Harmony module. The commercial spacecraft is now part of the International Space Station.
1105 GMT (7:05 a.m. EDT)
Today's arrival marks the seventh time a Dragon spacecraft has reached the space station, the 76th unmanned cargo ship to arrive at the complex, and the 158th overall mission to reach the outpost.
1102 GMT (7:02 a.m. EDT)
The next step this morning will be to move Dragon to an Earth-facing berthing port on the space station's Harmony module in the next few hours.
1059 GMT (6:59 a.m. EDT)
"I just want to say thank you to the folks at SpaceX and you guys in Houston," Cristoforetti just radioed to mission control. "It's been just amazing watching the launch, and knowing it was heading our way, and sure enough it came knocking at our door. It was steady as a rock, and we're just very, very happy to have it here."
1056 GMT (6:56 a.m. EDT)
Capture confirmed. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti grappled Dragon at 6:55 a.m. EDT (1055 GMT) as the space station flew about 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean east of Japan.
1052 GMT (6:52 a.m. EDT)
Cristoforetti is now moving the robot arm toward Dragon.
1048 GMT (6:48 a.m. EDT)
Mission control just radioed the crew they are "go" to capture Dragon.
While Cristoforetti is at the controls of the Canadian-built robotic arm, astronaut Terry Virts is overseeing the Dragon spacecraft's position and status from the space station's windowed cupola module. Virts has a command panel to order Dragon to retreat or abort if a problem develops.
1044 GMT (6:44 a.m. EDT)
Dragon has arrived at the capture point 10 meters, or 32 feet, beneath the space station and within the reach of the 58-foot robotic arm, which will be operated by European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
1026 GMT (6:26 a.m. EDT)
With the space station crew, Houston and Hawthorne all ready for final approach, Dragon has resumed its glacial flight toward the complex to the so-called capture box, which is about 10 meters, or 32 feet, beneath the outpost.
1015 GMT (6:15 a.m. EDT)
Dragon has arrived at a hold point 30 meters, or 98 feet, from the space station. There will be polls of teams in Houston and Hawthorne in the next few minutes before departing this hold point.
Astronaut Terry Virts says the Dragon appears to be in the correct position for this point in the rendezvous. The crew has a control panel linked with Dragon via UHF radio to issue simple commands in case of any problem. For example, the astronauts could tell the spacecraft to hold, abort or retreat.
Virts and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who will operate the station's robot arm to grapple Dragon, are inside the space station's cupola module for this morning's arrival.
0957 GMT (5:57 a.m. EDT)
The range between the space station and Dragon is now less than 100 meters, or 328 feet. The vehicles are flying 260 miles over southern Argentina, having just passed into an orbital sunrise.
0940 GMT (5:40 a.m. EDT)
The Dragon capsule is now inside the keep-out sphere, an imaginary 200-meter (656-foot) bubble around the space station. Virts will be in charge of sending the Dragon capsule away from the complex if a problem occurs from this point on in the rendezvous sequence.
0935 GMT (5:35 a.m. EDT)
SpaceX's Dragon cargo craft is now approaching the space station from underneath at a distance of less than 250 meters, or 820 feet. It's heading for a hold point 30 meters, or 98 feet, from the station.
Earlier this morning, the Dragon established two-way UHF communications with the space station, activated its laser rendezvous sensors, and completed a 180-degree yaw maneuver to align its grapple fixture with the space station's robotic arm.
Astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts are inside the space station's cupola module tracking Dragon's final approach.
THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015
Loaded with mice, plant specimens and the International Space Station's first espresso machine, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule is set to arrive at the complex for a fresh delivery of supplies around 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) Friday.
The unmanned cargo capsule will complete a nearly three-day pursuit of the space station with a laser-guided final approach sequence from below the outpost.
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will operate the space station's Canadian-built robotic arm to grapple the Dragon spacecraft when it reaches a station-keeping position about 30 feet below the complex.
The SpaceX-owned spaceship is carrying more than 4,300 pounds of cargo to reinforce the space station's stocks of research experiments, crew provisions and spare parts.
The Dragon capsule has fired its Draco thrusters multiple times since it launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday at 4:10 p.m. EDT (2010 GMT), raising its altitude to match the orbit of the space station and set up for Friday's final rendezvous sequence.
By about 2:25 a.m. EDT (0625 GMT), the Dragon spacecraft is supposed to be about 28 kilometers, or 17 miles, below and behind the space station. At that distance, the Dragon is within range of a UHF communications panel the space station's crew can use to issue simple commands to the supply ship in the event of a problem.
Several height-adjustment and midcourse correction rocket burns will fine-tune Dragon's rendezvous, guiding the ship into position 350 meters, or about 1,150 feet, directly beneath the space station at 5:05 a.m. EDT (0905 GMT).
The Dragon initially relies on relative GPS navigation data to guide its approach to the space station. Once directly beneath the complex, its computers will switch to laser and thermal sensors.
Dragon carries a laser guidance sensor package and and a pair of thermal cameras to aid its final rendezvous with the space station.
Before leaving the initial hold point 1,150 feet beneath the space station, the cargo craft conducts a 180-degree yaw maneuver to align its grapple fixture with the position of the space station's robot arm.
Soon after beginning its final approach sequence, the Dragon spacecraft will halt again at a hold position 250 meters, or 820 feet, below the space station. This brief hold allows ground controllers to assess the status of the rendezvous and issue a "go" for the Dragon to enter the so-called keep-out sphere, an imaginary circle around the space station in which traffic is tightly controlled for safety reasons.
The Dragon spacecraft should depart the 250-meter hold point around 5:29 a.m. EDT (0929 GMT), heading for a 30-meter hold position before pressing on to a final point about 10 meters, or 33 feet, beneath the space station.
Arrival at the final hold point is scheduled around 6:40 a.m. EDT (1040 GMT).
The astronauts inside the space station will monitor the final phase of the Dragon's approach, standing by to take control of the robotic arm for the grapple maneuver and send hold or retreat commands if they observe any problems.
Cristoforetti will grapple Dragon with the robot arm around 7:04 a.m. EDT (1104 GMT).
Once the Dragon is firmly snared by the robotic arm, the 58-foot Canadarm will move the capsule into position for berthing with the Earth-facing port on the space station's Harmony module around 9:40 a.m. EDT (1340 GMT).
TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2015
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched from Cape Canaveral with a 2.2-ton package of supplies and experiments for the International Space Station on Tuesday, but the booster toppled over after descending to a barge parked in the Atlantic Ocean.
Read our full story.
2031 GMT (4:31 p.m. EDT)
SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk says the Falcon 9 booster made a hard landing on the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
"Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival," Musk posted on Twitter.
2025 GMT (4:25 p.m. EDT)
The Dragon spacecraft will reach the International Space Station on Friday, with grapple scheduled for approximately 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT).
2024 GMT (4:24 p.m. EDT)
Video beamed back from the Dragon spacecraft show both solar array wings have unfurled. They span 54 feet tip-to-tip.
2023 GMT (4:23 p.m. EDT)
Dragon is deploying its two solar array wings now.
2021 GMT (4:21 p.m. EDT)
The Dragon spacecraft has separated from the Falcon 9 rocket. Solar array deployment should begin within 2 minutes.
2020 GMT (4:20 p.m. EDT)
Second stage shutdown! Falcon 9 has achieved orbit.
2019 GMT (4:09 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 9 minutes. SpaceX reports the landing burn has started on the Falcon 9 first stage.
2019 GMT (4:19 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes, 30 seconds. About one minute until the second stage Merlin 1D engine is supposed to shut down as the vehicle reaches orbit. The launcher is aiming for an orbit with a low point of about 200 kilometers (124 miles), a high point of 360 kilometers (224 miles), and an inclination of 51.6 degrees.
The Falcon 9's first stage should now be on final descent to the autonomous spaceport drone ship.
2018 GMT (4:18 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes, 40 seconds. The second stage remains in a nominal trajectory. The terminal guidance phase of the launch will start soon. Altitude is about 205 km.
2017 GMT (4:17 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes. The kerosene-fueled Merlin 1D upper stage engine generates about 161,000 pounds of thrust in vacuum.
2017 GMT (4:17 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes, 50 seconds. The vehicle is now in communications range of a ground station in New Hampshire.
The first stage has started the second of its three engine firings for descent, this time for the entry burn.
2016 GMT (4:16 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes, 30 seconds. Everything reported to be going well with this second stage engine firing. The Merlin vacuum engine uses an ultra-thin niobium nozzle extension for greater efficiency in the upper atmosphere.
SpaceX reports the first stage's boost-back maneuver has been completed, aiming for landing on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.
2014 GMT (4:14 p.m. EDT.)
T+plus 4 minutes. The nose cone covering the Dragon spacecraft's berthing port should be be jettisoned now.
2013 GMT (4:13 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes. The Falcon 9 first stage engines have cut off, the stages have separated, and the rocket's second stage Merlin vacuum engine has ignited for its nearly seven-minute firing to reach orbital velocity.
The first stage is now beginning its turnaround and boost back to the autonomous spaceport drone ship for a soft landing attempt.
2012 GMT (4:12 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes. Now soaring at an altitude of more than 20 miles, the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage will shut down and jettison in about one minute. Engines no. 1 and 9 will shut down about 10 seconds before the remaining seven Merlin 1D first stage engines.
And chilldown of the second stage's vacuum-rated Merlin 1D engine has started in preparation for its ignition.
2011 GMT (4:11 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 1 minute. The Falcon 9 rocket is approaching the speed of sound and the phase of maximum aerodynamic pressure.
2011 GMT (4:11 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 20 seconds. The Falcon 9 rocket's pitch program has initiated to put the 208-foot-tall rocket on an northeasterly trajectory from Cape Canaveral.
2010 GMT (4:10 p.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF of the Falcon 9, hauling 2.2 tons of experiments and provisions to the International Space Station and paving the way for the next generation of rocket technologies.
2009 GMT (4:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 60 seconds. In the final minute of the countdown, the flight computer will command checks of the first stage Merlin engine steering system and the Falcon 9 propellant tanks will be pressurized for flight. Thousands of gallons of water from the 53 water nozzles on ground facility's Niagara system will also be dumped onto the launch pad deck to suppress the sound and acoustics of liftoff.
The command to start the ignition sequence for the first stage will be issued at T-minus 3 seconds, triggering the Merlin engines' ignitor moments before the powerplants actually ramp up to full power.
2009 GMT (4:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 90 seconds and counting. The SpaceX launch director and the Air Force Eastern Range have given their final approvals for liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket at 4:10 p.m. EDT (0947 GMT).
2008 GMT (4:08 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes and counting. The rocket's Merlin 1D engines have been chilled down for ignition.
2008 GMT (4:08 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The strongback has been locked in to launch position.
2007 GMT (4:07 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The rocket's destruct system is on internal power and being armed, and liquid oxygen topping is being terminated.
The strongback has retracted into the launch position more than 20 degrees from the rocket.
The second stage thrust vector steering system has checked out and is ready for flight.
2005 GMT (4:05 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 5 minutes and counting. The cradles connecting the strongback to the Falcon 9 rocket have opened.
2004 GMT (4:04 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 minutes and counting. The Falcon 9 rocket is now operating on internal power.
The strongback umbilical tower will soon be lowered a few degrees to clear the rocket for launch. The procedure begins with opening of cradles gripping the rocket at attach points, then hydraulics lower the tower into launch position.
2004 GMT (4:04 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The Falcon 9's heaters are being deactivated, and the rocket will be transitioned to internal power in a few seconds.
2003 GMT (4:03 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 7 minutes and counting. Within the next minute, the Falcon 9's flight computer will be commanded to its alignment state. The Merlin engine pumps are continuing to chill down.
2002 GMT (4:02 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 8 minutes and counting. Good chilldown continues on the first stage engines, and closeouts of the upper stage's gaseous nitrogen attitude control system are underway.
2001 GMT (4:01 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 9 minutes, 30 seconds. Prevalves leading to the Falcon 9's Merlin 1D first stage engines are opening, permitting super-cold liquid oxygen to flow into the engines to condition the turbopumps for ignition.
2000 GMT (4:00 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 10 minutes and counting. The terminal countdown autosequence has started. Any hold after this point will result in an automatic abort and recycle to T-minus 13 minutes.
1958 GMT (3:58 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 12 minutes. The launch team has verified all consoles are go for liftoff at 4:10:41 p.m. EDT (2010:41 GMT).
The terminal countdown autosequence is about to begin at the T-minus 10 minute mark.
1955 GMT (3:55 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 15 minutes and counting. Here are some statistics on today's launch:
- 17th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
- 22nd launch of Falcon rocket family since 2006
- 16th Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral
- 12th launch of a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket
- 11th Falcon 9 v1.1 launch from Cape Canaveral
- 4th launch of a Dragon on a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket
- 7th SpaceX mission to the space station
- 9th Falcon 9 day launch
- 4th Falcon 9 launch of 2015
- 8th flight of a Dragon spacecraft
- 6th launch from Cape Canaveral in 2015
1953 GMT (3:53 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 17 minutes and counting. The Falcon 9 rocket stands 208 feet tall and measures 12 feet in diameter. At liftoff, its nine Merlin 1D first stage engines will generate about 1.3 million pounds of thrust.
Fully fueled for launch, the Falcon 9 contains about 1.05 million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.
1950 GMT (3:50 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The final poll of SpaceX's launch team will begin at T-minus 13 minutes before the countdown enters the final phase.
The launch vehicle is reported ready to proceed with the terminal countdown.
1946 GMT (3:46 p.m. EDT)
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1944 GMT (3:44 p.m. EDT)
Liquid oxygen topping continues on the Falcon 9 rocket's first and second stages.
1940 GMT (3:40 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 30 minutes. At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying about 257 miles above the Great Australian Bight.
Linkup with the complex is scheduled at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) Friday, when astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will grapple the Dragon spacecraft with the space station's robotic arm.