SS John Glenn Arrives at Space Station with Science and Supplies.

Astronauts used the station’s big robot arm to grab the capsule on Saturday.

Nasa’s commercial shipper, Orbital ATK, named the spacecraft the SS John Glenn in honour of the first American to orbit earth.

It rocketed from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) with nearly 3.5 tonnes of food, experiments and other goods.

Glenn died in December at age 95 and was buried earlier this month at Arlington National Cemetery. His widow, Annie, granted permission for Orbital ATK to use his name for the spacecraft.

Glenn made history in 1962 when he soared into orbit aboard Friendship 7, his one-man Mercury capsule. He returned to space in 1998 aboard shuttle Discovery, right before station construction began.

Space station commander Peggy Whitson – who on Monday will set a US record for most accumulated time in orbit – notified Mission Control when the capsule was captured.

“We’re very proud to welcome on board the SS John Glenn,” said French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who took part in the operation. The contents “will be put to good use to continue our mission of research, exploration and discovery”.

Whitson and Pesquet have been living on the space station since November, along with a Russian. They were joined by another American and Russian on Thursday.

Whitson is making her third space station flight. Early Monday, she will surpass the 534-day, two-hour-and-change mark set by astronaut Jeffrey Williams last year. US President Donald Trump will call her from the Oval Office to offer congratulations.

The SS John Glenn, meanwhile, will remain at the orbiting outpost until July, when it is let go to burn up in the atmosphere.



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