Featured Image Source: NASA / SpaceX
There will soon be two SpaceX Dragon spacecrafts docked to the International Space Station (ISS). Crew Dragon Resilience is already docked to ISS; It arrived on November 16th with Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who will work at the orbiting laboratory for six months. Now, SpaceX is ready to launch cargo aboard an upgraded Dragon spacecraft over the weekend. It will be SpaceX's 21st cargo mission under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract (CRS-21) to deliver important equipment and supplies needed to perform science research at the ISS Lab. The agency announced the CRS-21 mission is scheduled for Saturday, December 5th at 11:39 a.m. Eastern Time. A Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, propelling the Dragon spacecraft to low Earth orbit. “Weather officials with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff, with primary concerns revolving around flight through precipitation, the cumulus cloud rule, and thick cloud layer rule,” the agency wrote in a press release.
The CRS-21 mission will be the first resupply mission that will utilize SpaceX's upgraded version of the cargo Dragon capsule, which is capable of transporting 50% more payload mass. The capsule is capable of carrying a bit over 13,000 pounds of cargo and returning around 6,000 pounds safely. Dragon operates in full autonomy; It will cruise through space uncrewed and dock itself to the Space Station’s Harmony module by December 6 at 11:30 a.m. EST, as NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover supervise the operation. Upon arrival, it will be the first time SpaceX has two spacecrafts docked simultaneously at the space station, as seen in the image below.
Image Source: ISAA.it / @RaffaeleDiPalma via Twitter
Today, December 2nd, NASA shared a photograph (shown above) of the Falcon 9 rocket and upgraded Dragon capsule that will conduct the CRS-21 mission, being rolled out of the hangar towards the launch pad. The agency announced the launch vehicle will be moved to Pad 39A this afternoon. The Dragon capsule will deliver a variety of equipment to ISS on the upcoming flight. “The mission will deliver critical supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. Included in that delivery are materials for a variety of science experiments, including meteorite samples and microbes, 3D engineered heart tissues, and a tool being tested for quick and accurate blood analysis in microgravity,” the agency shared. NASA will broadcast the mission Live in the video below. The agency will host a pre-launch conference on December 4th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (EST). SpaceX’s CRS-21 mission will be Livestreamed on December 5th starting at 11:15 a.m. EST. The Dragon spacecraft will operate autonomously and the broadcast will resume on December 6th at 9:30 a.m. EST.
WATCH IT LIVE!
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.