Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have entered the Dragon cargo ship, now successfully docked with the ISS, and have pronounced the interior has "the smell of a brand new car," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Astronauts begin to unload cargo
The crew of the ISS has started to unload the 1,014 pounds of food, water and clothing the Dragon carried into low Earth orbit. ISS astronauts will load the Dragon with a cargo of science gear and old space station parts that will be taken back to Earth when the cargo ship undocks Thursday.
SpaceX's Dragon flight a complete success so far
After launching in the early morning hours Tuesday, the SpaceX Dragon completed a series of maneuvers around the International Space Station before approaching the ISS to be captured by the station's remote manipulator arm, according to the Washington Post. The arm brought the Dragon into a dock with the ISS.
Laser range finding glitch solved
The docking maneuver was delayed for two hours while a glitch in one of the laser range finders was fixed, the Washington Post noted.
Successful delivery of cargo by Dragon elicits praise
Understandably, the successful mission of the Dragon has brought praise from Obama administration and NASA officials, such as Obama science czar John Holdren and NASA administration Charles Bolden, according to the Washington Post.
Obama space policy critic recants
Even some erstwhile critics of President Barack Obama's space policy have given kudos for the mission of the Dragon. Mark Kelly, a former space shuttle astronaut, published an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel recanting his earlier criticism of Obama's decision to cancel the Constellation space exploration program and praised the flight of the Dragon has validating the turn to commercial space operations.
SpaceX's Dragon financed partly with NASA money
The Los Angeles Times notes NASA has given SpaceX almost $400 million in subsidies to make the flight of the Dragon possible. SpaceX is due for $1.6 billion for a cargo delivery contract of 12 flights over the next several years.
Scott Pace offers a dissenting view
Scott Pace, described as "a space policy expert at George Washington University and an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney" by the Washington Post, suggested SpaceX's Dragon needs a track record of six of seven successful missions. According to the Wall Street Journal, Pace added SpaceX needs to fulfill its promise of reliably supplying cargo to the ISS at the price it has promised
Dragon set to return May 31
Dragon will undock from the ISS at the end of May for a splash down in the Pacific off the coast of California, according to the Washington Post.
Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo and The Last Moonwalker. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.