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. It contained 5,000 pounds of cargo. This all happened 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. So 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 also Eastern Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7.

"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. But Orbital's rockets are grounded until next year. That's because of its launch accident. SpaceX is picking up as much slack as it can. Russia and Japan also plan deliveries this year.

SpaceX is still poring over data from Saturday's rocket-landing test. It was 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, it landed hard and broke into pieces.

The California company's billionaire founder is Elon Musk. He said he 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 (52)
  • jakes-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 11:26 a.m.

    Space X would like to land it's Falcon spacecraft on a platform instead of the ocean so that they can reuse the rocket for future missions.

  • kevik-4
    1/20/2015 - 12:03 p.m.

    In this paragraph it talks about this space station was getting low on supply. The reason that they are getting so low on supply is because the space craft that was supposed to bring them stuff crashed in October. On the space station they did not get to cerebrate Christmas because they had no supply to celebrate. So on January 7th a space craft came to give them supply's and they said they could finally celebrate Christmas. I would kind of feel bad for the people on the space station because living without much supply is scary. I feel happy for the people that they finally got to celebrate Christmas.

  • JackR-5
    1/20/2015 - 12:14 p.m.

    A space station has just received its supply shipment.The supply shipment was supposed to come earlier but the capsule exploded. Scientists had to quickly come up with a new way and put it up in the air. They were very excited to get presents and food. One Astronaut said he was excited to get mustard. The international space station normally gets one about every month. I think that it would be scary to not get food. I would be very excited to see my ship coming in with food and presents.

  • ma2000dragonball
    1/20/2015 - 01:00 p.m.

    The reason they probably want to do that because they don't want the rocket to break and get lost so they can use it again.

  • Lin03
    1/20/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    SpaceX might want the first stage of the Falcon rocket to land on a platform other than in the ocean so they can inspect the first stage after it landed, top see if the proper functions operated correctly. If the Falcon rocket landed in the water, they wouldn't be able to inspect the rocket to see what went right and what went wrong. Then, once they know the problem, they can fix it and make a better rocket for stage 2 of the Falcon rocket, a new and improved version.

  • wpapril30
    1/20/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    because the falcon rocket as important supplies and it as to land on a platform rather ocean, because the ocean will mess up the supplies and the coast guard will have a hard time getting all the supplies.

  • kcs4802
    1/20/2015 - 01:34 p.m.

    I don't know how anxious the astronauts up in the space station were to get their supplies and Christmas presents. The reason why it was set to arrive before Christmas made sense, but to be honest, it really didn't come to mind how the shipment was delayed for almost two or three weeks. I can't believe how long they had to wait to get their supplies because they were running low on fuel and other stuff. It beats me why children's science projects were sent up there. I would've slept the whole time until the shipment got there because I would've been super bored sitting there with nothing to do for half of a month.

  • alberts-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 01:45 p.m.

    i wounder if they had any important information on the space station but at least nobody got hert i have always wanted to be a astronaut

  • joshs-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 01:52 p.m.

    i cinda feel bad you know they otta be happy but you dont think it could have came on on DEC.25
    i think a nation could have done that for them well that is all for me

  • maddie.4
    1/20/2015 - 01:56 p.m.

    I couldn't imagine not having one of my parents home for the holidays, however, at least at the space station they have ways of communication and they still celebrate the holidays.

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