A SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule rendezvoused with the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday (July 16), delivering more than 5,800 pounds (2,630 kilograms) of supplies to the orbiting laboratory.
the robotic dragon launched on a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday night (July 14) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon 9 carried Dragon into low Earth orbit, and the rocket’s first stage descended again to successfully land on SpaceX’s A Shortfall of Gravitas drone.
Dragon’s orbital chase ended on Saturday: The capsule docked with the ISS at 11:21 am EDT (1521 GMT), as the two spacecraft flew 267 miles (430 kilometers) over the South Atlantic.
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The current mission is SpaceX’s 25th cargo flight to the ISS for NASA, hence it is known as CRS-25. (CRS stands for “commercial resupply services”). The number has increased at a slow but steady rate of about two per year since the company’s first operational ISS payload mission in 2012.
SpaceX’s overall launch cadence is much higher, of course: CRS-25’s liftoff was on the 30th. falcon 9 release so far this year. Unlike, spacex It launched just 31 missions in all of 2021. According to Benji Reed, SpaceX’s senior director of human spaceflight, the company is poised to double that number by the end of this year.
“I’m surprised,” Reed told reporters during a conference call shortly after Thursday night’s launch. “To think that we’ve already launched three Dragons to the station this year is great,” added Reed, “including the first fully commercial mission to the station and also a manned NASA mission.”
The other two Dragon missions that took off this year, both in April, were manned. one called Ax-1, which takes paying customers to the orbiting lab on a flight arranged by the Houston company Axiom Space. the other was Crew-4the fourth astronaut mission contracted by SpaceX for NASA.
About half the weight Continue transported to the ISS on CRS-25 is dedicated to scientific research. The mission is contributing to nearly 40 ongoing research projects taking place at the orbiting laboratory and left behind a few more, NASA officials said.
A study, from the European Space Agency and the University of Florence in Italy, is investigating the effects of microgravity on the wound healing process. Another, from the University of California, San Francisco, will study the immune system’s relationship to aging and the body’s ability to heal itself. There is also research to study a special type of biopolymer concrete, which could help in the search for future building materials on the moon.
Loaded into Dragon’s trunk, the EMIT experiment, short for Earth’s Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation, will be retrieved from storage using the ISS robotic arm and mounted on ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 1, a exposed external payload bay used for experiments and storage. EMIT will spend the next year studying the mineral composition of dust in Earth’s arid regions to help scientists better understand the planet’s global climate system.
Part of the CRS-25 payload, while not part of other ongoing research, serves as a symbol of the science that keeps daily life on the space station going, and also highlights how miraculous it is that we are able to operate a scientific laboratory. in space at all. Dina Contella, NASA operations integration manager for the ISS, highlighted other hardware included aboard Dragon.
“One item is a spare dose pump, which is critical to the toilet,” Contella said at Thursday’s news conference. Metering pumps are used to treat urine prior to the filter and recovery process back into drinking water, in case you forgot there is no water in space and astronauts have to drink their own recycled urine.
“In addition, we have launched some brine processor assembly bladders,” Contella said. “These allow us to recover even more water from the effort of urine [than] normal processing. So the new bladders further increase our ability to recover as much water as possible.” He added that two filters for the station’s drinking water dispensers were also included in the Dragon manifest.
Dragon is expected to remain docked with the ISS for about a month and fill up with station equipment before returning to Earth with a splashdown off the coast of Florida sometime in mid-August.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 11:55am EDT on July 16 with news of the successful docking.
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