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SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrives at International Space Station with food and supplies for astronauts.

Miami: SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo ship arrived on Friday at the International Space Station (ISS), carrying nearly 4,400 pounds (2,000 kilograms) of food and supplies for the astronauts living in orbit. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti grappled the capsule with the space station's robotic arm at 6:55am (1055 GMT) as the space station flew over the northern Pacific to the east of Japan, NASA said. "Houston, capture is complete," said NASA astronaut Terry Virts, after high-fiving Cristoforetti in the space station's cupola. "Samantha did a perfect job grappling Dragon." The Canadian-made robotic arm pulled the cargo ship closer for berthing at 9:29am (1329 GMT), NASA said. Dragon's contents include an espresso machine, ready-made food packets and a host of material for science experiments to study changes in vision, muscle and bones that astronauts experience while in zero gravity. It will be unloaded over the coming days. SpaceX launched the cargo ship on Tuesday atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its sixth official mission under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for a dozen trips to supply the orbiting space station. The capsule is scheduled to depart the ISS on May 21, and the next SpaceX cargo mission is slated for June 19. The Dragon made history in 2012, when it became the first commercial cargo ship to reach the space station. Previously, only government-built spaceships from Europe, Japan and Russia were able to make that journey. The US-made space shuttles were also big enough to carry cargo along with astronauts, before the 30-year NASA programme was retired in 2011. The commercial capsule Dragon is currently used for cargo, and the California-based company headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk is working on upgrades that will allow the first crew flight to take place in the next few years. Boeing is also working on a spaceship to ferry astronauts to space, called the CST-100, which is scheduled for its first flight with an astronaut and test pilot in 2017. Until then, the world's astronauts must rely on Russia's Soyuz capsules for transport to the research outpost at a cost of $70 million per seat.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Apr 17, 2015
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