Falcon 9

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Dragon CRS-23 To ISS, 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' Autonomous Droneship Makes Its Debut Rocket Recovery

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Dragon CRS-23 To ISS, 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' Autonomous Droneship Makes Its Debut Rocket Recovery

Featured Image Source: Greg Scott @GregScott_photo via Twitter 

After thunderstorms along Florida’s Space Coast delayed the mission by a day, SpaceX launched the 23rd NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-23) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, August 29. A thrice-flown Falcon 9 lit up the pre-dawn sky at 3:14 a.m. EDT. as it lifted off for the fourth time from Launch Pad-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, propelling a previously-flown Dragon spacecraft to orbit. 

SpaceX’s newest autonomous droneship called ‘A Shortfall Of Gravitas’ (ASOG) made its debut rocket recovery after Falcon 9 launched Dragon CRS-23 to orbit. At approximately eight minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9's first-stage booster, identified as B1061-4, returned from space and landed on the droneship. The sea-going platform is based upon barge Marmac 302 and features technology to operate completely autonomously. ASOG joins SpaceX’s fleet of launch support droneships called, ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ (OCISLY) and ‘Just Read The Instructions’ (JRTI). All three vessels are named in honor of deceased author Iain M. Banks, who wrote the Sci-Fi “Culture” novel series from 1987 to 2012. In the fiction novels, the vehicles are sentient starships that feature artificial intelligence with a unique personality and are capable of selecting a distinctive name for itself.

As B1061-4 landed on ASOG it marked the booster’s 4th recovery and the company’s 90th landing. “That is the 90th successful landing of an orbital class rocket and the very first for our newest drone ship, 'A Shortfall of Gravitas,'" SpaceX launch commentator Andy Tran said during the mission’s broadcast, “What a great way to start today's mission!” Recovering a rocket’s first-stage to reuse decreases the cost of spaceflight. SpaceX is currently the only company in the world capable of reusing orbital-class boosters reliably, even for crewed missions. The booster that conducted the CRS-23 mission previously launched a pair of crewed missions, Crew-1 and Crew-2, which launched astronauts to the Space Station; It also launched the Sirius SXM-8 music-streaming satellite. 

The CRS-23 Dragon capsule is currently on a voyage to the Space Station, it is set to arrive on Monday, August 30. The capsule will dock autonomously to the ISS Harmony module at around 11:00 a.m. EDT. as Expedition 65 NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur monitor operations. Dragon will deliver over 4,800 pounds of cargo to ISS, including the supplies needed to conduct dozens of scientific experiments in microgravity. The capsule is carrying a new robotic arm that will be tested inside the station's Bishop Airlock.

Dragon will also deliver a cool collection of science experiments for the Girl Scouts, which is a youth organization in the United States that encourages girls to become leaders by learning a variety of skills and they get rewarded with badges for acquiring practical skills and knowledge. In collaboration with NASA and ProXopS, the Girl Scouts “Making Space for Girls” program will send a study to examine plant growth in microgravity, an ant colonization research, as well as a study to learn about the brine shrimp lifecycle at the ISS Lab. The astronaut crew at the Space Station will send Girl Scout troops on Earth photos of their research.

These experiments will be launched in a special device designed to safely transport and host research to space, called ProXopS Faraday Research Facility. It will be the first time the device is launched to ISS. Besides carrying the research for Girl Scouts, the Faraday facility will also host a Houston Methodist Research Institute experiment that will test an implantable, minimally invasive, remote-controlled medicine delivery system in microgravity. You can watch CRS-23 Dragon autonomously dock to the Space Station on August 30 starting at 9:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, linked in the video below.





Featured Image Source: Greg Scott @GregScott_photo via Twitter 

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

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.

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