Environment & Science

SpaceX supply ship arrives at space station with groceries

In this video frame grab provided by NASA, the the International Space Station's robotic arm, lower right, operated by station commander Butch Wilmore, reaches for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the soar more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. The capsule delivered 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, including much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents, to the space station's six astronauts.
In this video frame grab provided by NASA, the the International Space Station's robotic arm, lower right, operated by station commander Butch Wilmore, reaches for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the soar more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. The capsule delivered 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, including much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents, to the space station's six astronauts.
NASA TV/AP
In this video frame grab provided by NASA, the the International Space Station's robotic arm, lower right, operated by station commander Butch Wilmore, reaches for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the soar more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. The capsule delivered 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, including much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents, to the space station's six astronauts.
The new capsules are being built by Boeing and SpaceX. They look similar, but there are differences.
/SpaceX, The Boeing Company
In this video frame grab provided by NASA, the the International Space Station's robotic arm, lower right, operated by station commander Butch Wilmore, reaches for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the soar more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. The capsule delivered 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, including much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents, to the space station's six astronauts.
Space X's Falcon 9 rocket launches on January 10, 2015 as it heads to space from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the Dragon CRS5 spacecraft on a resupply mision to the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon cargo vessel arrived at the space station Monday.
BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images
In this video frame grab provided by NASA, the the International Space Station's robotic arm, lower right, operated by station commander Butch Wilmore, reaches for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the soar more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. The capsule delivered 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, including much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents, to the space station's six astronauts.
Space X's Falcon 9 rocket launches on January 10, 2015 as it heads to space from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the Dragon CRS5 spacecraft on a resupply mision to the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon cargo vessel should arrived at the space station Monday.
BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images
In this video frame grab provided by NASA, the the International Space Station's robotic arm, lower right, operated by station commander Butch Wilmore, reaches for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the soar more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. The capsule delivered 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, including much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents, to the space station's six astronauts.
The landing pad for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. It is a drone ship that is autonomously propelled by thrusters. It will not be anchored during the landing.
SpaceX


A shipment of much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents finally arrived Monday morning at the International Space Station.

The SpaceX company's supply ship, Dragon, pulled up at the orbiting lab two days after its liftoff. Station commander Butch Wilmore used a robot arm to grab the capsule and its 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, as the craft soared more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean.

The space station's six astronauts were getting a little low on supplies. That's because the previous supply ship — owned by another company — was destroyed in an October launch explosion. NASA scrambled to get replacement equipment aboard Dragon, as did school children who rustled up new science projects.

Then Dragon was stalled a month by rocket snags; it should have gotten to the space station well before Christmas.

Mission Control joked about missing not only the December shipment date, but Eastern Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7 as well.

"We're excited to have it on board," Wilmore said. "We'll be digging in soon."

He's especially eager to get more mustard. The station's condiment cabinet is empty.

NASA is paying SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. for shipments. Orbital's rockets are grounded until next year, however, because of its launch accident. SpaceX is picking up as much slack as it can. Russian and Japan also plan deliveries this year.

SpaceX is still poring over data from Saturday's rocket-landing test, the first of its kind.

After the first stage of the Falcon rocket peeled away as planned following liftoff, it flew back to a giant platform floating off the Florida coast. The guidance fins on the booster ran out of hydraulic fluid, however, right before touchdown, and it landed hard and broke into pieces.

The California company's billionaire founder, Elon Musk, was encouraged nonetheless and plans another rocket-landing test next month.