The Dragon has completed its historic journey to the International Space Station. The first private spaceship to ever dock with the station has returned home. Here is how it happened.
Dragon is bringing more cargo than it took to the ISS, which is also very significant: after retiring the space shuttle, we didn’t have any capability to bring cargo back from space.
Midnight: Three minutes for de-orbit burn.
00.54am: All systems go for de-orbit burn, but it’s being more than three minutes now.
00.55am: Man, mission control just doesn’t have the charm and awesomeness of yesteryear. Remember the amazing mission control during Apollo? That looked so badass.
00.57am: Everything seems to be going fine.
00.58am: 46 minutes for splashdown. The crew is ready to pick up the Dragon from the ocean.
00.59am: Two minutes to go before the burn is completed.
1.02am: There’s a guy playing Angry Birds Space on his iPad right next to me.
1.03am: Dragon is in the right position for separation of its trunk, the attached cylinder that holds the solar panels.
1.04am: Angry Birds crap. I’m playing Galaga.
1.07am: I got the two spaceships. The two spaces have docked! I’m kicking some serious space fly ass.
1.08am: SpaceX is reporting a big green light.
1.09am: Splash still on schedule. It will be at 01.44am. That’s a lot of quarters in Galaga.
1.10am: Hey space nerds, did you know that the transit of Venus is coming up on June 5? That’s going to kick ass. You can watch it on NASA TV. Or if you are in NYC, you can go to the American Museum of Natural History planetarium to watch it in a huge screen, live.
1.12am: The trunk is now gone. Good bye trunk. You lived a full life.
1.16am: Have I ever told you about that time in which I spend one hour talking with Buzz Aldrin? Apart from being a hero, he’s such a perfect gentleman. And a genius. He was the one to come with this whole idea of orbital rendezvous. Thanks to him the Dragon was able to do this mission.
1.21am: Dragon is getting near its re-entry point, where it will encounter Earth’s atmosphere. It will have a radio blackout from 1.27am to 1.33am. Radio blackouts happen when spaceships re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, as the craft gets ionised.
1.22am: I’m glad I have an Ion Arcade iCade to play Galaga. This game is impossible with touchscreen controls.
1.23am: That bearded guy on the left is just checking his phone. Hey bearded guy, what are you doing? Watch the consoles! Say hello to us in Twitter, bearded guy!
1.26am: Dragon is feeling the effects of the atmosphere. Which means: FIRE. And a trail of plasma like this.
1.27am: All going good. Hot, but all good. Radio blackout begins, according to mission control.
1.28am: BEARDED GUY!
1.30am: Bearded guy doesn’t seem very amused. He’s having a bad day. Poor bearded guy.
1.31am: SpaceX will remove NASA’s cargo inside Dragon when it deports in California. NASA will have its stuff within 48 hours. SpaceFedEx.
1.33am: Dragon has been spotted by a NASA plane, using an IR camera. Good re-entry confirmed.
1.35am: No parachute deployment yet. The cool thing about Dragon is that, in the very near future, it will land with rockets. No parachutes, but rockets on a landing pad. You know, like in space movies. That would be pretty amazing to watch.
1.37am: Main parachutes deployed. “That’s great news,” says ISS astronaut Don Pettit.
1.38am: All three parachutes are working.
1.40am: I miss mission control’s bearded guy.
1.41am: Oh, check it out, it’s SpaceX’s CEO and founder Elon Musk on the first row, in the middle with the black t-shirt. Hi Elon! Elon, I hope you are coming to our superspace party at the American Museum of Natural History in July.
1.42am: Dragon has splashed down! Congratulations SpaceX!
1.43am: Team is now confirming the location of Dragon. Once they have the exact GPS information they will relay it to the recovery vessels.
1.49am: Well, seems that everything is good. Dragon has splashed very close to its target. Vessels are arriving. All is good. I’m back to playing Galaga. Congratulations again, Elon and team!