back to article SpaceX joy as Space Station robo-arm grabs Dragon's tail

Elon Musk's SpaceX has just made history with the first ever commercial cargoship to be captured by the International Space Station's robotic arm. ISS captures the Dragon ISS captures the Dragon. Credit: NASA TV Flying above northwestern Australia, flight engineer Don Pettit aboard the ISS reached out with the Canadarm and …


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  1. Ben Holmes
    Thumb Up

    Good effort boys and girls! Carry on!

  2. g e

    By the tail?

    Looks more like the bellybutton to be honest....

    There's something about spaaaace that really brings out the fromage....

    1. FartingHippo

      Re: By the tail?

      Wait until they open the hatch. They'll find a veritable smaugasbord of delights inside, by George.

      1. Norman Hartnell

        Re: By the tail?

        Shame Smaug has the same vowel sound as "crouch"...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: By the tail?

      Pedant: Dragons Hatch from Eggs, no umbilical cord no belly button.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    congratulations, ladies and gentlemen!

    You're half-way there, but 'docking' with the earth should be easier.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: congratulations, ladies and gentlemen!

      Yeah. Apparently it's all downhill from here :)

  4. Beachrider

    This is Very very good...

    I am very pleased with this activity. In watching NASA TV, I could feel the anticipation. The almost-too-clean SpaceX headquarters is open for business. On to bigger and better things!

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      Re: This is Very very good...

      "Very good" doesn't begin to describe it. I was 12 years old when I watched Armstrong step out onto the Sea Of Tranquillity; this wasn't nearly as globally life-changing as that moment, but in its own way, it was made of awesome. Part of it, I think, is due to the fact that the Dragon capsule is designed to return safely instead of burning up, can be reused, and SpaceX already has a mananed version in the works. I'm no big flag-waver, but it's good to see someone getting close to having the USA's next generation of manned spacecraft ready to fly soon. I'm no rabid nationalist type, but after Apollo and the Shuttle, the idea that we were stuck buying rides from the Russians rankled a bit, for some reason I can't really describe.

      I, too, noted the sparseness and tidiness of the SpaceX mission control room in California. I was almost disappointed after nearly a lifetime of watching the action in Houston's MCC. Never mind what a proper spaceship is supposed to look like, MCC Houston is what a Mission Control is supposed to look like -- especially back in the Apollo era; now, there was a mission control... guys smoked in that room, and cursed, and slammed down gallons of coffee, and smoked and cursed some more. Talk about your "man cave".

  5. Keith 17
    Thumb Up


    very impressive I must say.

    As for landing, a cheaper option is clearly just to send that bloke in the wing-suit up instead. he just needs a bunch of carboard boxes to land, and with very little being bought and sold these days there must be plenty of them to spare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Impressive

      I take it you don't shop with Amazon too much: their boxes are going to share the end times of the planet with the cockroaches and AOL floppies.

    2. Andus McCoatover

      Re: Impressive

      Think HP's nefarious packing department might be a bit handy there.....

      Seriously, bloody good effort! Now, swinging the Dragon to precise alignment - that's gotta be something to watch on NASA TV.

      1. Mike Flugennock
        Thumb Up

        Re: Impressive

        You betcha, man. Watched the whole thing on the NASA TV stream. It was real exciting as the Dragon approached, then got real boring for a while as they sorted out the misdirected LIDAR target reflection issue, and suddenly got exciting again. Man, was that pretty to watch. Wished I'd had some Strauss to play in the background.

  6. Poor Coco

    Mmmmmm, cheese.

    I wonder what they will put the cheese on, as crackers in space seem like a really bad idea.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Mmmmmm, cheese.

      Hm, good point.

      Not all crackers would pose a problem, though. Soda crackers or saltines might not be so good as they're brittle and crumble easily, but Triscuits or small Wheat Thins might work.

      Obviously, a non-crumbly cheese is a must. Bleu would be right out, but Brie, Camembert or a Swiss or Jarlsberg would be just right.

      Can't recall if Wensleydale is a crumbly cheese or not. Iirc it's what Wallace and Gromit found on the moon, but they were able to eat it under gravity.

      Damn, now I've got that old Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch stuck in my head now (Will you shut that bloody bazuki up!)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Bleu ? Brie ? Camembert ?

        What about Cheez Whiz ?

        <ducks and runs>

  7. Gary F
    Thumb Up

    This calls for a spin-off computer game!

    ...or maybe an app. Hours of fun can be had playing grab that little space craft with the robo arm. ;-)

    1. toxicdragon

      Re: This calls for a spin-off computer game!

      You can use the arm on the space shuttle to grab stuff on this

      1. Andus McCoatover

        Re: This calls for a spin-off computer game!

        Sorry to whine....

        Anyone tried it running in Wine? I'm having a serious 'mare' with my M/c at the mo, can't try...

    2. LAGMonkey
      Thumb Up

      Re: This calls for a spin-off computer game!

      try out the Kerbal Space Program for a space sim game with actual space bits in it!

      Ive only just managed to get to the Moon! however getting back again is an impossible task for my inept Kerbal spacemen

  8. GoingGoingGone
    Thumb Up

    This Elon chap

    It has been already pointed out in less illustrious rags than El Reg, but Mr. Musk is starting to look like the Tony Stark of this side of the screen.

    Kudos to him and his team. It doesn't come much more exciting than this.

    1. stucs201
      Thumb Up

      Re: This Elon chap

      The screen version of Stark is apparantly partly based on Musk...

      1. MajorTom

        Re: This Elon chap

        I'm sure you noticed Mr. Musk's cameo appearance in Iron Man 2?

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: This Elon chap

          Not just Musk, but the hanger at SpaceX and some nice shots of the rockets and capsules too.

  9. Alyas

    Now if they can just get the stuffed animals out without dropping them. Perhaps they won't slip out of the claw in zero-g, but I'll believe it when I see it. Those grabbers are always rigged.

  10. laird cummings
    Thumb Up

    Well done.

    Now, lets see y'all do it again - and again. Y'all ain't grabbed the brass ring just yet, though it's in your reach.

  11. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    astronaut has cheesy line ready?

    "Dragon by the tail"? Well, kind of corny, but at least he didn't belch out some smarmy canned blabbery supplied to him by the NASA PAO... like they did every time a Shuttle docked with Mir or ISS, or every time a Shuttle landed.

    Let's remember that most of the US astronauts and Russian cosmonauts are ex-test pilots, many with a heavy engineering background, so their humor tends to be a bit corn pone (guys like Pete Conrad, Charlie Duke and Dave Wolf being the exceptions that prove the rule).

  12. stuartnz
    Thumb Up

    A great day for space science

    To see this successful capture & berthing THEN read about the expanded SKA decision made this a very good day for space science. I really, really hope that NASA can and will now get on with doing "the big stuff" as they keep saying in their promos for this COTS test. Now SpaceX has done such a brilliant job of showing they can do the delivery runs, please get someone back onto getting us out of LEO, and lay down some nice fat pipes for the Aus/NZ section of the SKA while they're at it.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    An interesting question would be.

    NASA mandate capture by an arm for berthing and the berthing hatch is *much* bigger than the one other vehicles dock to.

    But Dragon has thrusters as well driven by state of the art (by space processor standards) computers.

    Could it "berth" at this hatch *without* the arm?

    Just a thought..

    1. DryBones

      Re: An interesting question would be.

      The Russians do it fancy and drive straight in, but by having a human in the loop you get the adaptability and ability to recognize and recover from a wider range of errors. Plus meat is on a relative scale, cheaper. So by making the docking procedure "get it in this envelope with this range of angles relative to the station, and Bob's your uncle," there is less money (even more redundant and precisely designed) and less risk associated with docking. Recall, this is how the ATV and HTV do it .

  14. ChrisInAStrangeLand

    The CBM also has a larger hatch than the Russian end, which means Dragon can lift bigger cargo.

  15. David Strum
    Thumb Down

    I’m not cheering – I don’t think mountain climbing is a cleaver pastime too.

    One day, these guys up there, will come back down and won’t recognise the earth they took off from. Whoever controls space – controls the world. I do wish they stop their non-sense-dream-of-Star-Trek coming to reality; all it is – is an exercise in frontier control and vying for space resources. It’s a costly practice that’s so far-removed from whats happening in our daily lives, and yet we’re supposed to cheer these madmen on!

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: I’m not cheering – I don’t think mountain climbing is a cleaver pastime too.

      You are as wrong as can be. See previous articles on this theme written by much cleverer people than me for all the reasons you are wrong. In brief, we need those "space-resources" yesterday, and governments have had their chance and failed us. It is so much closer to what is happening in our daily lives that I cannot believe what you wrote. Willful blindness is not attractive.

  16. Crisp


    That's totally awesome SpaceX.

    Now do a barrel roll.

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