SpaceX Recycled Dragon Resupply Ship Reaches Space Station with 3 Tons of NASA Gear

The SpaceX Dragon is
pictured at the capture point about 10 meters from the International Space
Station as it is about to captured moments later by the Canadian built robotic
arm about 256 miles (412 km) over Quebec, Canada.  Credit: NASA TV

Ken Kremer     2 July 2018

CENTER, FL –  Three days after a breathtaking
predawn blastoff from the Florida Space Coast a recycled SpaceX Dragon resupply
ship reached the International Space Station early
this morning July 2
loaded with three tons of NASA science
gear and supplies for the six person multinational crew serving aboard from the United States, Russia and Germany. 

The stash includes
the AI artificial intelligence imbued free flying robot named CIMON provided by
the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the ECOSTRESS water monitoring platform from
JPL, cancer and human health research experiments, a new hand for the Canadian-built
robotic arm, ice cream treats and super strong doses of ‘Death Wish’ Coffee.

The SpaceX Dragon
CRS-15 cargo freighter reached the vicinity of the space station early Monday
after a carefully choreographed series of thruster firing, carefully maneuvered
into close proximity and was deftly captured by the NASA astronauts working the
control of the Canadian-built robotic arm as the ship was appropriately flying
over Canada.

The SpaceX Dragon
cargo craft is pictured moments after being captured with the Canadarm2 (the
57.7-foot-long robotic arm designed and built by the Canadian Space Agency)
controlled by NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold as the International Space Station
orbited over Quebec, Canada.   Credit:

As the ISS was speeding more than 256 miles (412 km) over Quebec, Canada, NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, captured the Dragon spacecraft
at 6:54 a.m. EDT using the 57

station, capture complete,” radioed Arnold. “Go for post-capture
reconfiguration. Looking forward to some really exciting weeks ahead as we
unload the science and get started on some great experiments.”
Overall this was
the 30th visiting vehicle capture using

controllers in Houston then sent commands to remotely carry out the robotic
installation of the spacecraft onto the bottom of the station’s Harmony

Berthing and joining to the Earth-facing side
of the Harmony module was finished at 9:52 a.m. EDT after all 16 bolts and latches were
driven to home to complete the installation with a hard mate and no pressure
This was the 15th SpaceX resupply mission
the International Space Station
under the original Commercial Resupply
Services contract (CRS-1) with NASA.

July 2, 2018: International
Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station
including the SpaceX Dragon and Cygnus resupply ships from the United States;
and from Roscosmos, the Progress 69 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09
crew ships.  Credit: NASA

The recycled
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had blasted off from Florida’s Spaceport June 29 about
45 minutes before sunrise and put on an absolutely stunning sky show that was
dubbed a ‘space jellyfish’ in the first minutes of its critical mission
carrying nearly 6000 pounds of research instruments and gear aboard the Dragon
spacecraft for NASA.  

With the
successful arrival of Dragon, there are now 5 spaceships attached to the space station.

Besides Dragon, the
Cygnus OA-9 resupply ships from the United States and
the Progress 69 resupply ship from Roscosmos are attached as well as a pair of Russian
Soyuz crew ship- MS-08 and MS-09 for the six resident crewmembers.

The reused SpaceX Falcon 9 and recycled Dragon CRS-15
commercial cargo freighter lifted off into nearly cloudy free pristine twilight
skies precisely on time Friday
June 29 at 5:42 a.m. EDT (0942 GMT) from seaside Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40)
at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The phenomena
that created the ‘space jellyfish’ is known as the twilight phenomena.

Check out our Space
UpClose CRS-15 articles and expanding gallery of photos from myself and space
journalist colleagues.  Click back as the
gallery grows.

Long exposure streak shot of spectacularly
beautiful and successful launch of SpaceX 
Falcon 9 rocket before
dawn at 5:42 a.m. on June 29, 2018 from
Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape
Canaveral Air Force.  It is carrying the Dragon CRS-15 cargo ship loaded
with 3 tons of science for NASA  to the ISS  – captured
from roof of NASA’s iconic VAB at the Kennedy Space Center. 
Credit: Ken
After opening the
hatches, the crew will now begin unloading all the critical cargo and science
gear from Dragon to station starting Tuesday. 

In addition to Exedition
56 crew commander Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, the crew comprises  flight engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor (NASA) and Alexander Gerst (ESA/Germany) and Russian cosmonauts
and Sergey Prokopyev.

 “The space residents will spend the Fourth of
July holiday with light duty. Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor will begin
transferring mice delivered aboard Dragon into their new habitats aboard the
station on Wednesday”, said NASA.  “They
also reviewed the experiment installation and research operations to help
scientists learn how microgravity affects physics and biology.”

“The rodents will be
observed to understand how microbes impact the gastrointestinal system in
microgravity. Arnold and Feustel will be swapping frozen research samples from
the Japanese Kibo lab module into the U.S. Destiny lab module.”

“Among the research arriving to the U.S.
National Laboratory is the Space Algae investigation, will discuss
research to select algae strains adapted to space and sequence their genomes to
identify growth-related genes. Algae consume waste carbon dioxide, can provide
basic nutrition and may perceive microgravity as a trigger to produce algae
oils rich in antioxidants that may help mitigate the harmful effects of
microgravity and cosmic radiation during spaceflight. The Center for the
Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the U.S. National
Laboratory, is sponsoring the investigation.”

Up Close view of CIMON, a
free flying robot.  The mobile astronauts
assistant is being tested as technology demonstration experiment and is the
first hardware imbued with AI Artificial Intelligence on the 
Space Station. It was developed by AirBus and the German Aerospace Center
(DLR). Launched on SpaceX Dragon
CRS-15 cargo run. 
Credit: Ken

“A technology demonstration arriving is an
observational pilot study with the Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) that aims to provide first insights
into the effects of crew support from an artificial intelligence (AI) in terms
of efficiency and acceptance during long-term missions in space.”

The Dragon will
stay joined to the orbiting outpost for about a month. 

The total CRS-15
cargo is 5,946 pounds (2,697 kg). Of this the total unpressurized cargo is
3,774 pounds (1,712 kg).  

The two unpressurized
payload in the Dragon truck is 2,172 pounds (985 kg). 

They are the ECOSTRESS
experiment; 1,213 pounds (550 kg) and the LEE latching end effector for the
robotic Canadian arm; 959 pounds (435 kg).

The CRS-15 manifest includes:

§  2,718 pounds (1,233 kilograms) of scientific

§  452 pounds (205 kilograms) of crew supplies

§  392 pounds (178 kilograms) of vehicle hardware

§  139 pounds (63 kilograms) of spacewalk equipment

§  46 pounds (21 kilograms) of computer resources

§  27 pounds (12 kilograms) of Russian hardware
After departing the station in a month Dragon will return to
Earth for a parachute assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of
Baja California carrying gear and science samples totaling about 3,800 pounds. 

The returning cargo and research include “an
investigation to advance DNA sequencing in space and the Angiex cancer therapy investigation to improve
understanding of endothelial cells that line the walls of blood vessels.”

Spectacular ‘Space Jellyfish’
like exhaust plume from the June 29, 2018 predawn launch of 
Falcon 9 in the first minutes
after liftoff
Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in
Florida at 5:42 a.m. EDT on Dragon CRS-15
delivery run for NASA to the ISS.  
Ken Kremer/

CRS-15 marks the 12th flight overall for SpaceX
in 2018 and the 2nd ISS resupply mission for NASA in 2018.
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA,
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct
from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and
Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Stay tuned here for
Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news:
– – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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