On December 6, a three-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off for the fourth time from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking the beginning of SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission for NASA. The Falcon 9 propelled an upgraded Dragon spacecraft carrying over 6,400 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). “This is the first flight of the updated cargo version of Dragon, which is capable of carrying about 20 percent more volume than the previous version of Dragon and has double the amount of powered locker cargo capability,” SpaceX stated in a press release, “Dragon is now designed for up to five flights to and from the space station, and this cargo version of the spacecraft can stay on station more than twice as long as the previous version of Dragon,” the company wrote.
Spotted! The first @SpaceX Dragon Cargo 2 spacecraft approaching the @Space_Station.— NASA (@NASA) December 7, 2020
😋👨🏽🍳Fun fact: Arriving with the Dragon is food for the holidays including cherry blueberry cobbler, roasted turkey, French vanilla cappuccino & more: https://t.co/6EGEMjCBx1 pic.twitter.com/CTJyBfFXVC
After a 26-hour-long voyage, the CRS-21 Dragon spacecraft arrived to the orbiting laboratory today, December 7, while travelling 268 miles over the southern Indian Ocean. Dragon docked autonomously to the Harmony module at 1:40 p.m. EST, as NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Kate Rubins monitored docking operations. “The Cargo Dragon has officially made it to the International Space Station. Hatches are expected to be opened later today for that first access to some of the incredible science that is on board,” NASA spokesperson Gary Jordan said during a live broadcast of the mission. –“Success! At 1:40pm ET, SpaceX's upgraded Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the Space Station,” the agency announced via twitter, “This is the 1st automated docking for a SpaceX cargo resupply mission & the 1st time two Dragon spacecraft are on station simultaneously.”
Success! At 1:40pm ET, @SpaceX's upgraded Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the @Space_Station.— NASA (@NASA) December 7, 2020
🐉 This is the 1st automated docking for a SpaceX cargo resupply mission & the 1st time two Dragon spacecraft are on station simultaneously: pic.twitter.com/Qj6n9KLnxO
The Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft is also docked to the space station; Resilience ferried Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the ISS Lab on November 16 after a 27-hour-long voyage. The Crew-1 mission is SpaceX's second crewed flight and the first operational mission under NASA's Commercial Crew Program that returned human spaceflight capabilites to the United States. “Between crew and cargo missions, there will be at least one Dragon spacecraft attached to the space station for the entirety of 2021,” SpaceX stated.
“I'd just like to say a huge congratulations to all of the teams that worked on SpaceX-21. It's pretty amazing to think that less than a month ago you docked four crewmembers International Space Stations and now you're bringing a vehicle full of World Class science for us execute,” Astronaut Rubins told mission controllers in Houston after the successful docking.
Wow, Station looks amazing!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2020
CRS-21 Dragon delivered a variety of important cargo needed to conduct scientific research in microgravity. Some of the equipment will be used to study how space conditions affect the interaction between microbes and minerals, an investigation of the heart using 3D-engineered organs, 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. spacecraft’s unpressurized trunk is carrying a new airlock door for the Space Station, called the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock. Dragon also delivered a collection of special holiday meals for the Expedition 64 ISS crewmembers, including: apples, roasted turkey, macaroni and cheese, French vanilla cappuccino, southwestern corn, among other delicious things listed below.
Featured Image Source: NASA TELEVISION
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.