SpaceX Dragon capsule arrives at International Space Station


The capsule attached to the station's robotic arm Wednesday, 250 miles above the Pacific, just west of Baja California, 2½ days after the Dragon's launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

It's the first delivery by SpaceX under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The contract calls for 12 such shipments. The current shipment, carrying 1,000 pounds of groceries, clothes, science experiments and other gear, won't be opened by the space station crew until Thursday, when the hatch is opened.

Dragon will stay attached to the station for 18 days before returning to Earth filled with a different load of gear. Dragon is the only cargo ship capable of bringing back research and other items, filling a void left by NASA's retired shuttles.

This is the second Dragon to visit the space station. Last May, SpaceX conducted a test flight. The Hawthorne-based company is working to make its Dragon capsule safe enough to carry astronauts, possibly in three years. For now, NASA is paying the Russian Space Agency tens of millions of dollars to launch astronauts to the space station. Other U.S. companies also are vying for crew-carrying rights.

The space station currently houses three astronauts from America, Russia and Japan. Another American and two more Russians will arrive in two weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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