SpaceX’s newest Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) early Sunday (November 27) to deliver tons of new supplies, new solar wings and even ice to the orbiting lab.
robotic Dragon spacecraft It docked with the orbiting laboratory on Sunday around 7:39 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) when the two spacecraft flew over the Pacific Ocean.
“We’re excited to unpack and get to work,” NASA astronaut Josh Cassada told Mission Control from the station after the successful docking.
“We hope you enjoy that much-deserved and long-awaited ice cream soon,” replied Megan Harvey of Mission Control.
Sunday’s rendezvous ended a short chase for Dragon; The EspaceX cargo ship was launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday afternoon (Nov. 26) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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Dragon is loaded with approximately 7,700 pounds (3,500 kg) of cargo. The announcement includes two new International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), equipment designed to augment existing solar wings on the orbiting laboratory.
The ISS station will eventually house six iROSAs, which together will increase the station’s power supply by 20-30%. Astronauts in space have installed two of the new networks so far.
Dragon also delivered a number of science experiments to the International Space Station on this flight. For example, a study headed to the station will grow dwarf cherry tomatoes from seed in an effort to help increase food production from the ground. Another study will continue in the old microgravity research using 3D heart tissue (Opens in a new tab)testing potential treatments that can prevent or slow the progression of heart disease.
The current Dragon mission is called CRS-26 because it is the 26th robotic cargo flight that SpaceX has conducted to the International Space Station for NASA. CRS-26 was due to take off on Tuesday (November 22) but was called off due to bad weather.
NASA officials said Cargo Dragons typically remain docked to the International Space Station for about a month, but CRS-26 will remain aloft for about 45 days. The extra time was set aside in part to allow for the spacewalks needed to install the iROSAs.
CRS-26 will end up in the sea mist using the parachute. Dragon is the only currently operational freighter to return to Earth in one piece after its missions. The other two active cargo planes – Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus craft and Russia’s Progress craft – are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when in orbit.
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