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ExoLance
Dragon flies past ISS in test before berthing
Posted: Thu, May 24, 2012, 10:42 PM ET (0242 GMT)
Dragon during C2+ flyby of ISS (NASA) A commercially-developed cargo spacecraft flew within 2.5 kilometers of the International Space Station early Thursday in a test that clears the way for the spacecraft to attempt to berth with the station on Friday. In a series of maneuvers, the Dragon spacecraft passed 2.4 kilometers below the station, then moved in a loop around the station. During those maneuvers the ISS crew was able to directly command the spacecraft while Dragon used its relative GPS system to determine its position relative to the ISS. NASA and SpaceX said those tests went as planned, allowing them to proceed with a rendezvous of Dragon with the station on Friday. Dragon will move to a position 10 meters below the ISS, at which time the station's robotic arm will grapple Dragon and berth it to the station's Harmony node. Dragon, launched by SpaceX on Tuesday morning, is performing a test flight that, if successful overall, will allow SpaceX to begin regular cargo delivery missions to the ISS.
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