David Saint-Jacques Becomes the First Canadian Astronaut to “Catch” a Cargo Ship

The Canadarm2 robotic arm, commanded by astronaut David Saint-Jacques, reaches out to grapple the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft at its capture point 10 meters from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA.

This past Monday David Saint-Jacques added another accomplishment to his resume while on-orbit for his six month stay on the International Space Station (ISS) by performing a “cosmic catch”.

The “cosmic catch” as the Canadian Space Agency refers to it, is the capture and berthing of autonomous resupply cargo spacecraft using the space station’s Canadarm as they arrive. In this case, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This was the first time a Canadian astronaut on the ISS performed the “cosmic catch”.

Watch the “Cosmic Catch”

After the spacecraft was berthed the crew will unload the cargo while Canada’s Dextre robotic handyman will remove cargo from the Dragon’s “trunk” and stow the cargo in its appropriate place outside on the station.

Animation of Dextre unloading and reloading Dragon’s trunk

According to NASA “just two days following its nighttime launch from the Florida coast, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft was captured and installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 9:32 a.m. EDT” Monday.

NASA also stated that with the arrive of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft “the number of spaceships docked at the space station to six. Other vehicles visiting include Russia’s Progress 71 and 72 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-11 and MS-12 crew ships, as well as Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter.”

The Dragon cargo spacecraft was carrying 2,500 kilograms of research, crew supplies and hardware.

NASA outlined some of the research onboard the resupply ship;

“Scientists are using a new technology called tissue chips, which could help predict the effectiveness of potential medicines in humans. Fluid that mimics blood can be passed through the chip to simulate blood flow, and can include drugs or toxins. In microgravity, changes occur in human health and human cells that resemble accelerated aging and disease processes. This investigation allows scientists to make observations over the course of a few weeks in microgravity rather than the months it would take in a laboratory on Earth.”

“The Hermes facility allows scientists to study the dusty, fragmented debris covering asteroids and moons, called regolith. Once installed by astronauts on the space station, scientists will be able to take over the experiment from Earth to study how regolith particles behave in response to long-duration exposure to microgravity, including changes to pressure, temperate and shocks from impacts and other forces. The investigations will provide insight into the formation and behavior of asteroids, comets, impact dynamics and planetary evolution.”

“These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations that will help us learn how to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars. Space station research also provides opportunities for other U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments, and products that improve life on Earth.”

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 27 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.