Earlier today, December 4th, NASA and SpaceX conducted a prelaunch news conference at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center ahead of SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission. An upgraded SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is ready to transport cargo autonomously to the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow, December 5th at 11:39 a.m. EST. UPDATE: Mission delayed to Sunday, December 5th due to unfavorable weather. “This morning, we did a mission management team meeting, and we had a unanimous go for this launch and docking,” Kenny Todd, deputy program manager of the agency’s International Space Station Program Office said. “We’re excited to get on with it; we’ll see how things play out over the next couple of days, but hopefully by the middle of the week, we’ll have a Dragon on the way, if not already attached (to station).”
“It’s the first time we will have a couple of Dragons on board – a Crew Dragon and a Cargo Dragon.” ⁰⁰— NASA (@NASA) December 4, 2020
Hear about some of the science heading to space, including a new commercial airlock, from Kenny Todd, deputy program manager, @Space_Station Program Office: pic.twitter.com/oYlIiaqMIK
The CRS-21 mission will be the first to utilize the upgraded version of the Dragon capsule that will carry over 6,400 pounds of supplies needed at the orbiting laboratory. Some of the supplies that will be transported will be used to study how space conditions affect the interaction between microbes and minerals, a technology demonstration of a blood analysis tool in microgravity, also equipment to test a method of building habitats in space, among other scientific research. You can watch the video below to learn more about the important research Dragon will carry to the orbiting laboratory.
🤔 Wondering what’s flying on board the upgraded Cargo Dragon? ⁰⁰Take a behind-the-scenes look at how some of our researchers have been working across the nation to get their science ready for tomorrow’s mission: pic.twitter.com/UP6Hrckbmb— NASA (@NASA) December 4, 2020
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will propel the Dragon spacecraft to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A at around 11:39 a.m. EST on Saturday. The United States Space Force 45th Weather Squadron forecast a 50% chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff this weekend. The primary weather concern is a cold front that is moving across the state. “Previously, it looked like that cold front would be passing right during the launch window, but the trend is now our friend – the models are now bringing that cold front through prior to the launch window,” the U.S. Space Force launch and weather officer Melody Lovin stated. “Because of that, we’re expecting most of the rain associated with the cold front to be pretty much done before the launch window opens up. We’re not exactly sure when the clouds are going to clear out of the way for us. We’re hoping the earlier the cold front will pass, the more clearing we’ll get,” she added.
Upon arrival, two Dragon spacecraft will be attached to the Space Station’s Harmony module simultaneously. Last month, SpaceX launched a crew of for astronauts to ISS aboard a Crew Dragon that is currently docked to the station. – “It really ushers in a season of continuous Dragon presence for the near future,” said Sarah Walker, director of SpaceX Dragon Mission Management. “We’re excited about all of the missions that we’ll be flying for NASA and the International Space Station program, both cargo and crew, and it’s really just an honor to be a part of that.” Walker also shared thar what makes the upgraded Cargo Dragon different than the previous iteration is that it is capable of being reused 5 times and remain at the station for 75 days, among other features, video below.
🛰️ Stays on @Space_Station for 75 days— NASA (@NASA) December 4, 2020
🧪Double the amount of powered cargo (good for life sciences)
✔️Certified for reuse up to 5Xs
Here's what makes Cargo Dragon 2 unique from its previous version as described by Sarah Walker, director, @SpaceX Dragon Mission Management: pic.twitter.com/N6CG8doLUX
Dragon will operate and dock autonomously as NASA Astronauts Victor Glover and Kate Rubins supervise the operation from ISS. The capsule will remain at the station for a month, before autonomously undocking and returning to Earth with 5,200 pounds research and return cargo. NASA will Livestream the CRS-21 mission in the video below, starting Saturday, December 4th at 11:15 a.m. EST.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.