The Space Station will have a pair of SpaceX Dragon spacecrafts docked simultaneously

The Space Station will have a pair of SpaceX Dragon spacecrafts docked simultaneously

SpaceX is gearing up to launch cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard an upgraded Dragon spacecraft. 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 orbiting laboratory. The agency announced the CRS-21 mission is scheduled for December 5th at 11:35 a.m. Eastern Time. A Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the Dragon spacecraft to low Earth orbit. 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 carrying 50% more payload mass. Dragon is capable of launching a bit over 13,000 pounds of cargo and returning around 6,000 pounds safely, SpaceX says it is “the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth.”


“Once this Dragon docks to the space station, there will be two Dragons docked simultaneously. 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. A Crew Dragon spacecraft is currently docked to the space station; It 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.


When the cargo Dragon capsule arrives to ISS in December, it will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module. “About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station,” the agency announced in a press release, “Arrival to the space station is planned for Sunday, December 6.” NASA Astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will monitor the spacecraft’s arrival. It will be the first time in history SpaceX has two spacecrafts docked simultaneously at the orbiting laboratory.

A variety of equipment will be onboard the CRS-21 Dragon capsule. The supplies that will be transported during the CRS-21 launch will be used to study how space conditions affect the interaction between microbes and minerals, a technology demonstration of a blood analysis tool in zero gravity, also equipment to test a method of building habitats in space, among other science research. “The first commercially owned and operated airlock on the space station, the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, will arrive in the unpressurized trunk of the Dragon spacecraft. Bishop will provide a variety of capabilities to the orbiting laboratory, including CubeSat deployment and support of external payloads,” the agency announced.

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 autonomously operate and broadcast of the journey will resume on December 6 at 9:30 a.m. EST, the capsule will dock at 11:30 a.m. EST.



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.

Follow me on X

Reading next

Elon Musk says SpaceX could launch Starship prototype 50,000 ft on Wednesday!
Breaking: Tesla Giga Shanghai-Made Model Y Granted Permit for Sales & Purchase Tax Exemption

Tesla Accessories