Christmas comes late to International Space Station Backdropped by Earth is the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft appears at left (Reuters)
Christmas comes late to International Space Station
Lexile

A shipment of much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents has reached the International Space Station.

The SpaceX company's supply ship, Dragon, pulled up Monday 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 cargo, as the craft soared more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean Sea.

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. School children also rustled up new science projects to go aboard the supply ship.

Then Dragon was stalled a month by rocket snags; it should have arrived at 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 because the station's condiment cabinet is empty.

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

Critical thinking challenge: Why might SpaceX want the first stage of the Falcon rocket to land on a platform, rather than fall into the ocean?

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COMMENTS (21)
  • TF00Music
    1/20/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    Because if you let it fall into the ocean, It may be destroyed and they cant get any information from it or use it anymore. That's why they want to make it land on a platform.

  • tw2001marvel
    1/20/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    SpaceX might want the first stage of the Falcon rocket to land on a platform rather than fall into the ocean because y might want it to at least survive. If Falcon were to fall into the ocean it would be absolutely impossible to restore it and it may sink down in the ocean.

  • Haley Patterson
    1/20/2015 - 01:23 p.m.

    I think that it's great that they are sending presents up to the astronauts. I think of it as only fair that they are included in Christmas, even if it means the presents come a little late.

  • CharismaM
    1/20/2015 - 01:25 p.m.

    I hope they'll be able to launch next year without any accidents. It's good that the astronauts were able to receive the supplies they needed.

  • ratiaira
    1/20/2015 - 01:26 p.m.

    if i was there i would want my gifts sent to me this whole thing is pretty cool that there was a machine that came and delivered the gifts to the people..

  • Ashlynn1048
    1/20/2015 - 01:57 p.m.

    That would really stink not celebrating Christmas, it's my favorite holiday. I'm not sure I would be able to get used to life on a Space Station, since you would have to be very selective on what and how much you eat.

  • JuvenileJellyfish
    1/20/2015 - 01:59 p.m.

    I think it's good that the people in the space station finally get to celebrate Christmas. I didn't even know they celebrated Christmas but it's good that they do.

  • TreyvaunT
    1/20/2015 - 07:07 p.m.

    I think that it is pretty crazy what people could now. I would never in my life be able to be in the NASA station. I am too claustrophobic. Plus I wouldn't want to be off the earth for that long.

  • GolickiL-Tan
    1/21/2015 - 08:32 a.m.

    I think that its great that NASA and other space related companies send presents and Christmas food for all the people in the space station. I didn't know they did that, and it probably means a lot to the people who are working in the space station because they cant just go home anytime and be with there family so the presents are a way of making it feel like the Christmas season.

  • Bailey1129
    1/21/2015 - 01:41 p.m.

    I think that it is Great that they finally get to celebrate Christmas and i m sure that their glad to have more food they probably were getting worry about there supplies.

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