KEY POINTS

  • SpaceX conducted its latest resupply mission to the ISS
  • Astronaut Jessica Mier used the ISS robotic arm to capture Dragon
  • Canadarm2 will no longer be used to capture vessels

For the last time, the International Space Station’s (ISS) robotic arm caught and stabilized SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft during its recent resupply mission. The incredible maneuver was carried out by the only woman in space right now.

NASA released the video of the incredible moment, which was shared on YouTube by SciNews, shortly after the completion of SpaceX’s latest resupply mission to the ISS. The mission involved transporting about 4,200 kilograms worth of supply and experiments to the massive space station.

The video shows SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule flying along with the ISS over Earth. According to Leah Cheshier, the public affairs officer for NASA, the capsule and the space station were flying over the tip of South Africa at the start of the video.

A few moments later, the Dragon spacecraft started using its thrusters to position itself in preparation for the capture procedure. The ISS’ robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, was being controlled by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, who is currently the only woman in space and aboard the ISS. She was joined by fellow NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan as a back-up.

As soon as the ISS and the Dragon capsule were at the right positions, Mier carefully took control of the robotic arm to capture the spacecraft. The astronaut noted that the Dragon’s resupply mission, known as CRS-20, was significant in a number of ways.

For one, it served as the last flight of the Dragon spacecraft, which SpaceX is retiring in favor of its newer second-generation capsule, which will also have the same name. Also, the mission marked the last time a spacecraft was captured by the Canadarm2. Mier noted that future space vessels would be able to dock with the ISS directly.

“The SpaceX 20 mission is a milestone for several reasons,” she said in the video after successfully securing the Dragon capsule with the robotic arm. “It is of course the 20th SpaceX cargo mission, but it is also the last SpaceX cargo vehicle captured by the Canadarm, as future vehicles will automatically dock to the space station. It is also the last cargo vehicle that will visit during our current crew's time on the space station.”

SpaceX Crew Dragon Docking to ISS This artist illustration shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docking to the International Space Station. SpaceX is one of two American companies working with NASA to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems, restoring the nation’s human launch capability to and from the station. Photo: SpaceX/ Public Domain