SpaceX Dragon Berths at Space Station Delivering Science and Christmas Gifts

SpaceX Dragon CRS-16 cargo
ship approaches the International Space Station on Dec. 8, 2018 as seen through
the windows of the Cupola module along with a toy floating dragon. Dragon
launched from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 5, 2018 atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credit:
NASA Anne McClain

Ken Kremer  SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
–8 December 2018


KENNEDY SPACE CENTER,
FL –  Three days after a spectacular blastoff from the Florida Space Coast, a commercial SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived
and attached to the International Space Station on Sat. Dec. 8, bearing almost
three tons of science and Christmas goodies for the six person multinational
crew from the US, Russia and Germany.



The Dragon CRS-16
spacecraft reached the vicinity of the station Saturday morning following a
carefully choreographed series of thruster firings.



This now twice launched Dragon rendezvoused at the orbiting
outpost as planned on Dec. 8 for capture by the crew and installation on the Earth
facing port of the Harmony module for a month long stay. 

The SpaceX Dragon CRS-16
cargo craft approaches the ISS for capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on
Dec. 8, 2018. Credit: Alexander Gerst/ESA

ESA Astronaut and Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of Germany and NASA Astronaut  Serena Auñón-Chancellor from America maneuvered and operated
the 57 foot long Canadian-built Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Dragon.  



They were assisted by recently launched  astronaut Anne McClain of NASA.

The SpaceX Dragon CRS-16
cargo craft is being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Dec. 8, 2018. Credit:
NASA

The International Space Station was traveling
about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean north of Papua New Guinea as ESA’s Alexander Gerst and NASA Serena Auñón-Chancellor, captured the Dragon
spacecraft at 7:21 a.m. EST using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic
arm while working at a robotics work station in the 7 windowed domed Cupola module offering outstanding views.



Gerst
commanded the stations robotic arm during the arrival and capture sequence backed
up Aunon-Chancellor.



Ground controllers then took over the rest of
the berthing activities and sent commands to begin the robotic installation of
the spacecraft on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module



The SpaceX Dragon
cargo craft is moments way from being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit:
NASA

Installation of Dragon onto the Earth-facing
side of the International
Space Station
’s Harmony module was completed at 10:36 a.m.
EST.

The SpaceX Dragon CRS-16
cargo craft approaches the ISS for capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on
Dec. 8, 2018. Credit: NASA
NASA Television provided live grappling and installation
coverage which can always be watched online at www.nasa.gov/live.
Including Dragon there
are now six visiting vehicle spaceships attached to the ISS. The others are a Cygnus
supply ship, a pair of crewed Soyuz spaceship and two uncrewed Progress cargo craft. 
Dec. 8, 2018:
International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are attached at the
space station including the U.S. resupply ships Northrop Grumman Cygnus and the
SpaceX Dragon; and Russia’s Progress 70 and 71 resupply ships and the Soyuz
MS-09 and MS-10 crew ships all from Roscosmos.

Station arrival came on
the heels of a flawless launch of the new SpaceX Falcon 9 carrier rocket right
on time Wednesday afternoon December 5
as all nine first stage Merlin 1D engines roared to life and ignited
with 1.8 million pounds of liftoff thrust at 1:16 p.m. EST
(1816 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station in Florida. 

A
SpaceX Dragon CRS-16 spacecraft launches to the International Space Station at
1:16 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2018, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40
at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying more than 5,600 pounds
of research equipment, cargo and supplies on the 16th resupply
mission for NASA.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Check out
our Space UpClose eyewitness gallery of imagery of the launch and landing as
well as prelaunch imagery taken of the Falcon 9 standing tall at pad 40 during
our media remote camera setup – in our prior articles.
 

A
SpaceX Dragon CRS-16 spacecraft launches to the International Space Station at
1:16 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2018, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40
at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying more than 5,600 pounds
of research equipment, cargo and supplies on the 16th resupply
mission for NASA.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

SpaceX’s attempt to recover
the first stage back at the Cape with a land landing 8 minutes later for eventual
recycling and relaunch failed when the hydraulic pump in the grid fins used for
steering malfunctioned and forced the first stage booster to land in the ocean safely
instead just a mile or so offshore at sea with no danger to population centers
or infrastructure.

Floating SpaceX Falcon 9 towed into Port
Canaveral, FL, on 7 Dec. 2018 is nudged into docking slip by tugboats.  The 15-story tall first stage made an aborted
splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean on 5 Dec. 2018 after a grid fin hydraulic
failure forced retargeting landing away from the ground at Landing Zone-1 at
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station following blastoff on the Dragon CRS-16 resupply
mission for NASA to the ISS.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The booster soft landed
in the water and then tipped over and remained afloat horizontally. 



It was towed
into Port Canaveral two days later on Friday, Dec. 7. Check out our story and
image gallery.



The launch of SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply
mission for NASA was postponed a day from the original target of Tuesday, Dec. 4 to Wednesday afternoon, Dec.
5 to
remove and replace contaminated bars of
mouse food for 40 rodentonauts riding aboard to the High Frontier as part of
the Rodent Research-8 experiment.
 



The late breaking discovery
of what amounts to moldy mouse meals getting ready to be flown to space aboard the
commercial Dragon cargo ship bound for the ISS forced NASA and SpaceX to delay
the liftoff on the Falcon 9 carrier rocket from Florida’s Space Coast by 24
hours from Tuesday to Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 5. 



Dragon CRS-16 is
loaded with nearly 3 tons of science and supplies for the newly expanded six person
Expedition 57 crew currently living and working aboard the ISS including the three
new crewmembers launched Dec. 3 on a Russian Soyuz rocket and spacecraft from
Baikonur.

The six person station crew is composed of two
three person Soyuz crews from Germany, Russia and the US.




The Expedition 57 comprises Commander Alexander Gerst of
ESA (European Space Agency) from Germany, NASA Flight Engineer Serena
Auñón-Chancellor
from the US and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev from
Russia, who have been in orbit since June.  



This current trio is nearing the end of their
Expedition 57 mission. They are scheduled to depart the station in their Soyuz
MS-09 capsule just before Christmas on Dec. 20. 



They were joined by the recently launched Expedition 58 trio in the Soyuz MS-11 capsule carrying Anne McClain of
NASA, David
Saint-Jacques
 of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Konenenko of
Roscosmos that launched flawlessly on Dec. 3 at 6:31 a.m. EST,
1131 GMT (5:31 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 



Expedition 58 officially begins once the three
departing spacefarers undock from the space station, says NASA.



Dragon delivered supplies and payloads, including
materials to directly support dozens of the science and research investigations
that will occur during the space station’s Expeditions 57 and 58.



This Dragon is refurbished and recycled and previously flew
on the CRS-10 mission to the station. 



Up Close view of Dragon CRS-16
cargo ship bolted atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket poised for liftoff on mission to
the ISS from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL,
on Dec. 5, 2018 at 1:16 pm EST. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The 20-foot
high, 12-foot-diameter
Dragon CRS-16 vessel is jam packed with more than 5,673 pounds (about 2,573 kilograms) of science
experiments, research hardware, space parts, food water, clothing and more
supplies for the six person Expedition 57 and 58 crews.



Highlights of the
payloads on board include:



The Robotic Refueling Mission 3, or RRM3, to test
refueling techniques in microgravity and the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation lidar,
or GEDI for global forest measurement, the Rodent Research-8 experiment looking
into the aging process and crystallization experiments to aid in finding a cure
or Parkinson’s disease.

Unpressurized trunk
section of the Dragon carrying the RRM3 and GEDI experiments to orbit for NASA
on the CRS-16 mission launched Dec. 5, 2018. Credit: SpaceX

Details of the research, science
investigations and technology demonstrations aboard Dragon include the
following NASA descriptions:



“The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) will provide high-quality laser ranging
observations of the Earth’s forests and topography required to advance the
understanding of important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity,
and habitat. GEDI will be mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module’s Exposed
Facility and provide the first high-resolution observations of forest vertical
structure at a global scale. These observations will quantify the aboveground
carbon stored in vegetation and changes that result from vegetation disturbance
and recovery, the potential for forests to sequester carbon in the future, and
habitat structure and its influence on habitat quality and biodiversity.



A small satellite deployment mechanism,
called SlingShot, will be ride up in Dragon and then
be installed in a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft prior to its departure
from the space station. SlingShot can accommodate as many as 18 CubeSats of any
format. After the Cygnus cargo ship departs from station, the spacecraft
navigates to an altitude of 280 to 310 miles (an orbit higher than that of the
space station) to deploy the satellites.



Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM3) will demonstrate the first transfer and
long-term storage of liquid methane, a cryogenic fluid, in microgravity. The
ability to replenish and store cryogenic fluids, which can function as a fuel
or coolant, will help enable long duration journeys to destinations, such as
the Moon and Mars.



Growth of Large, Perfect Protein Crystals for
Neutron Crystallography (Perfect Crystals) crystallizes an antioxidant
protein found inside the human body to analyze its shape. This research may
shed light on how the protein helps protect the human body from ionizing
radiation and oxidants created as a byproduct of metabolism. For best results,
analysis requires large crystals with minimal imperfections, which are more
easily produced in the microgravity environment of the space station.”



After about a five week stay Dragon is
scheduled to depart the station around January 13, 2019 and return to Earth
with more than 4,000 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.



Dragon is the only spacecraft currently flying
that can return large quantities of science samples and other hardware back to
researchers for analysis and investigations here on Earth. 



Watch my commentary about the successful launch
and ‘successful failure’ of the retargeted aborted  landing here at Fox 35 News Orlando, FL:





The prior CRS-15 resupply flight successfully flew in June
from pad 40. 



The two stage Falcon 9/Dragon rocket stands
about 213-feet (65-meters) tall.



To date SpaceX has successfully landed 32 1st stage
rockets by land and by sea. And they have reused 17 of those 15 story tall boosters
since the first relaunch in March 2017 relaunch for SES. 



CRS-16 marks the 20th flight overall for SpaceX
in 2018 and the 4th ISS resupply mission for NASA in 2018. 



SpaceX was awarded a $3.04
Billion contract from NASA to launch 20 Dragon cargo missions to the orbiting outpost
through 2019 under the Commercial Resupply  Services (CRS) agreement.  



SpaceX
has been awarded at least six more cargo resupply missions through 2024 under
NASA’s  
Commercial Resupply  Services-2
(CRS-2) agreement.  



Watch for Ken’s
continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop
Grumman 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: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter
@ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com



Dr. Kremer is a research scientist,
journalist and photographer based in the KSC area.



………….

Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events



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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