Featured Image Source: SpaceX
In April this year, SpaceX retired the first iteration of the Dragon capsule during the 20th resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), under a Commercial Resupply Cargo Services (CRS-20) contract with NASA. The contract signed in 2008 was valued at $1.6 billion. Dragon has been in operation since 2010, the aerospace company retired the cargo spacecraft after nearly a decade in operation. SpaceX replaced it with an upgraded version -Dragon V2.
Throughout the years, SpaceX has successfully transported vital equipment and science research, including live animals and plants aboard Dragon, and it safely brought back the experiment's results to scientist's on Earth. Overall, the original Dragon capsule spent over 520 days stationed at the ISS laboratory, delivered over 95,000 pounds of cargo, and returned over 76,000 pounds back to Earth.
During its time in operation, Dragon achieved many reusability milestones, each cargo craft was certified to fly 3 times. The spacecraft that flew during the final CRS-20 mission conducted its third flight to space. Dragon's successor, is an upgraded cargo variant that is similar to SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft that launched astronauts to the Space Station in May. Dragon V2, will be capable of docking autonomously to the ISS's docking port and it is designed to be reused up to 5 times.
This week, SpaceX announced --"The Dragon spacecraft supporting SpaceX’s 21st cargo resupply mission to the Space Station departed our Hawthorne factory last week for Florida," the company wrote via Twitter. "This will be the first flight of the upgraded cargo version of Dragon, which is able to carry 50% more science payloads than the previous version of Dragon."
This will be the first flight of the upgraded cargo version of Dragon, which is able to carry 50% more science payloads than the previous version of Dragon pic.twitter.com/oJ1rSaDDZq— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 12, 2020
The first resupply mission with the upgraded capsule is scheduled for November 22 this year, after SpaceX launches the next crew of astronauts, known as Crew-1. It is unclear when NASA will decide to launch Crew-1, the agency stated it targets sometime early-to-mid November. Crew-1 will be the first operational mission and SpaceX's second crewed flight to the orbiting laboratory. Four astronauts will ride Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket, which will liftoff from Launch Pad 39A from the Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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.