UPDATED at 12:19 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON — Astronauts aboard the international space station (ISS) successfully captured Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft, making the cargo capsule the first privately owned and operated vehicle to reach the orbital outpost.
The capsule, carrying supplies for the ISS crew, was berthed to the orbital outpost a short time later.
Astronaut Don Petit took control of the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm and grappled Dragon at 9:56 a.m. Eastern time. Elapsed mission time at capture was three days, six hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds, according to NASA mission control at Houston.
Dragon was berthed with the space station’s Harmony module at 12:02 p.m. Eastern time. ISS crew members are expected to open the hatch May 25 and retrieve the first cargo shipment ever to be delivered to ISS by private industry.
Capture was delayed almost two hours because of difficulties with Dragon’s laser imaging detection and ranging, or LIDAR system. The LIDAR, which SpaceX calls Dragon Eye, picked up stray reflections from the Kibo module, which interfered with positioning calculations required for proximity operations. SpaceX engineers narrowed the LIDAR system’s field of view and tried the rendezvous again, this time successfully.