NASA announced Saturday afternoon that the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched Friday, which has recovered from a thruster problem that jeopardized its mission, is cleared to arrive at the station just one day later than planned. Dragon will rendezvous with the station in the early morning hours Sunday, with the station crew scheduled to grapple the Dragon with its robotic arm at 6:31 am EST (1131 GMT). The arm will than move the Dragon to its berthing location on the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.
That’s a major recovery from just 24 hours ago, when SpaceX engineers were still struggling to bring the spacecraft’s four thruster pods online. According to NASA, “all of Dragon’s systems are operating as planned” now, including the thrusters, which have been raising the spacecraft’s orbit in preparation for Sunday’s arrival. “SpaceX said it has high confidence there will be no repeat of the thruster problem during rendezvous, including its capability to perform an abort, should that be required,” NASA noted in the statement.
Update 3/3 9:30 am: The berthing took place not according to plan, but actually ahead of it: The station’s robotic arm grappled Dragon one hour early, at 5:31 am EST (1031 GMT), and attached it to the station at 8:56 am EST (1356 GMT). Dragon will remain at the station until March 25, when it will return to Earth carrying experiments and other items from the station.