SpaceX yesterday morning launched a new batch of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station but this time, its using a slightly different spacecraft to achieve this mission. The company is making use of its newly upgraded Dragon capsule which it’ll use to transport its goods to the space.
The rocket and space transportation company has been sending supplies to the ISS since 2012 and in its 20 previous missions, it used its original version of the Dragon cargo capsule but then started the development of the new Dragon capsule even though meant to transport people to and from the ISS, its also being used to transport supplies.
Then there is the Crew Dragon or Dragon 2 which sports some important upgrades over its predecessor is now able to haul 50% more science payloads according to SpaceX. Another interesting upgrade its its ability to automatically dock with the space station.
Unlike the previous models which needed to be berthed which requires it to slowly approach the ISS and then the crew member use a robotic arm to grab the incoming capsule and move it into an open docking port but the new Dragon 2 craft doesn’t require this human intervention as it attaches itself to the ISS.
And back to the mission which is meant to help deliver supplies to the station and astronauts as well as several other experiments to the ISS. This includes the European Space Agency’s Bioasteroid which will be able to test how biomining is affecting microgrvaity.
The mission is also going to have the first COVID-19 drug research experiment in space on board in order to try and improve the efficiency of Remdesivir an antiviral drug. There is also Nanorock’s commercial airlock module which is a large metal cup that latches to the exterior of the ISS meant to deliver payloads and other materials from inside the pressurized environment of the ISS out into the space.
Whenever the capsule reaches the ISS, it it will latch itself onto the ISS but won’t be the only Dragon capsule to do so as SpaceX also launched a crew of four to the ISS on Nov. 15gth which is yet another Dragon capsule that auto-docked just a day later.
That means there will be two Dragons docked at the ISS after this flight gets off the ground. “It’ll be the first time that there are two Dragons on the space station simultaneously,” Sarah Walker, the director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX, said during a press conference ahead of the flight. “And it really ushers in a season of continuous Dragon presence for the near future, at least through the end of 2021.”
The mission was rescheduled due to weather concerns but is now slated to launch at 11:17AM ET from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX is using one of its used Falcon 9 rockets for the mission, a vehicle that’s flown three times before. In fact, it’s the same rocket that launched SpaceX’s first crew of two the station in May. After the flight, the Falcon 9 will attempt to land on one of SpaceX’s drone ships in the Atlantic. The Dragon capsule is expected to dock with the ISS on December 7th.