Screenshot from NASA TV

The Dragon module carrying ASIM has arrived at the ISS

Space research Space technology and instruments Climate change
The Dragon spacecraft with the Danish ASIM project on board has reached the International Space Station. Andreas Mogensen helps guide the spacecraft from the NASA control centre in Houston.

A few days ago, a nerve-racking procedure was conducted 400 km above the ground, involving the Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen. Together with his colleagues, he was guiding the Dragon module with ASIM on board to the International Space Station (ISS) on 4 April 2018.

This took place from his position at NASA’s control centre in Houston, Texas, and in close collaboration with the astronauts on board the ISS. Using a remote-controlled arm, they had to capture and dock the Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. The operation was expected to take 3-4 hours.

“It’s really exciting to follow, and one of the next critical points in the process of getting ASIM safely on board the ISS,” says engineer Per Lundahl Thomsen from DTU Space. He is part of the team behind the ASIM project and follows the process from the USA.

ASIM as well as other equipment and supplies were launched successfully towards ISS from Cape Canaveral on 2 April at 10.30 p.m. Danish time with the Dragon module on top of a Falcon 9 rocket booster from the private company SpaceX.

When the Dragon module has been captured, the supplies are unloaded, initially those to be used inside the actual space station, including food and beverage for the astronauts. Then the remaining equipment is prepared for mounting on the outside of the ISS. This includes ASIM, which is to be installed on the outside of the ISS on the part known as the Columbus module.

Andreas Mogensen under arbejdet med at sammenkoble Dragon-modulet med ISS 4. april 2018. (Foto: NASA TV)
Andreas Mogensen in the control centre in Houston on 4 April 2018 in the process of docking the Dragon module to the ISS.

ASIM must be placed so that it points down towards the Earth. From this position, the ASIM instruments will study energy discharges from lightning during thunderstorms—and other phenomena—in the coming years. The lightning strikes to be studied project into space—and not down towards the Earth—unlike the lightning strikes typically seen from the Earth. This happens around 20 to 100 km above the Earth.

ASIM is Denmark’s most extensive space project to date. The project is owned by the European Space Agency (ESA), but is a Danish-led project. DTU Space is responsible for the scientific management, and the Danish company Terma handles the technical management of the project.

Click here to follow ASIM’s arrival at the ISS on NASA TV.

The picture at the top of the article was recorded live by NASA from the ISS at around 1.15 p.m. Danish time on April 4 2018