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SpaceX cargo ship reaches space station after GPS glitch delay

By Irene Klotz

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A SpaceX cargo ship reached the International Space Station on Thursday, delivering science experiments, food and supplies to astronauts a day later than planned due to a GPS data glitch.

A NASA television broadcast showed the Dragon ship, filled with nearly 5,500 pounds (2,500 kg) of cargo, flying itself to the station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet of France then used the station's 58-foot (17.6 m) robot arm to pluck the gumdrop-shaped capsule from orbit at 5:44 a.m. EST (1044 GMT).

"Looks like we've got a great capture," U.S. station commander Shane Kimbrough radioed to Mission Control in Houston.

Ground control teams took over operations to drive the capsule to a docking port, triggering automatic bolts that locked it into place at 8:12 a.m. EST, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

Dragon's arrival was delayed by a day due to a navigation glitch. The capsule blasted off from Florida aboard a Space Exploration Technologies Corp Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday.

The station crew expects to unload the capsule later on Thursday. Its cargo includes two science instruments to be mounted outside the station. One will measure the Earth's ozone and atmospheric gases and particles, and another seeks to help scientists better understand lightning strikes, which occur about 45 times per second around the world, NASA said.

The capsule also carried dozens of experiments to be conducted inside station laboratories, including stem cell research. Astronauts also plan to test the effects of microgravity on the superbug Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations, expects another cargo delivery from a Russian Progress ship, launched a day ago from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, with docking at 3:34 a.m. EST on Friday.

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Paul Simao)