1st Next Generation Cargo Dragon Docks at International Space Station with NASA Science and New Airlock

1st Next Generation Cargo Dragon Docks at International Space Station with NASA Science and New Airlock
1st next generation SpaceX Cargo Dragon supply spacecraft docked with the International Space Station Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 loaded with 3 tons of science, supplies and the new Nanoracks Bishop commercial research airlock – one day after launching on Dec. 6 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL. Screenshot Credit: NASA TV / Space UpClose

Ken Kremer – For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL –  The first of the next generation SpaceX Cargo Dragon supply ships successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS) today, Dec. 7, as the two vehicles were traveling 268 miles over the southern Indian Ocean at 17, 500 mph – just over 26 hours after the flawless and fantastic blastoff on a Falcon 9 rocket into gorgeous Sunday lunchtime skies over Florida’s Space Coast – on a NASA contracted delivery run hauling over 3 tons of NASA science and supplies and a new commercial airlock from Nanoracks to enhance research capabilities to the seven person multinational crew living and working on board.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft performed the first ever autonomous rendezvous and docking of a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the ISS by SpaceX.

Dragon docked to the space-facing (zenith) port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module for the first time at 1:40 p.m. EST   (1840 GMT), Monday, Dec. 7, about 26 hours after liftoff and remain at the station for about 35 days.

The zenith docking port is located adjacent to and perpendicular to the Crew Dragon vehicle that arrived last month with the four person Crew-1 astronaut team who will remain aboard the station for a six-month science stint.

1st next generation SpaceX Cargo Dragon supply spacecraft docked with the International Space Station Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 loaded with 3 tons of science, supplies and the new Nanoracks Bishop commercial research airlock – one day after launching on Dec. 6 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL. Screenshot Credit: NASA TV / Space UpClose

 

NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover  monitored Cargo Dragon’s approach, rendezvous and docking operations today.

Watch this cool time-lapse of the Dragon approach:

The duo will also be readying the Tranquility module for Dragon’s primary payload, the NanoRacks Bishop science airlock.

NASA TV offered  several hours of live coverage and commentary.

Dec. 7, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon vehicles, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus-14 resupply ship, all three from the United States, and Russia’s Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-17 crew ship. Credit: NASA

Cargo Dragon launched on a veteran 4x recycled ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 on the 21st Commercial Resupply Services mission, dubbed CRS-21, to the International Space Station, under the auspices of NASA’s commercial cargo program.

Fire & Fury from 1.7 million pounds of liftoff thrust generated by 9 Merlin 1D engines from SpaceX Falcon 9 reveal propulsive power hurling 1st upgraded uncrewed SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft off Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:17 a.m. ET, Dec. 6, 2020 delivering 3.2 tons science and Nanoracks commercial research airlock to the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Cargo Dragon supply ship on the CRS-21 resupply mission to the ISS took place at 11:17 a.m. EST (1617 GMT), Sunday, Dec. 6, from seaside Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

1st upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft liftoff above famous & ticking countdown clock on SpaceX Falcon 9 Florida at 11:17 a.m. ET, Dec. 6, 2020 off Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on CRS-21 resupply mission delivering 6400 pounds science, cargo and Nanoracks commercial research airlock to the International Space Station as US and Crew-1 flags flutter nearby. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

 

Among the science experiments are using microbes to mine asteroids, examining how changes in gravity affect the heart at the cellular and tissue level on tissue chips and the effect of microgravity on brain organoids, as well as the commercial Nanoracks airlock filling nearly the entire exterior cargo volume in the Dragon trunk section.

The privately funded Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is a new commercial platform 5 times bigger than the Japanese airlock on the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) already in use. It will vastly increase the ability to deploy more cubesats and house externally mounted research payloads.

SpaceX tweeted a stunning view of the separation showing the commercial Nanoracks airlock filling nearly the entire exterior cargo volume

 

Enjoy our Space UpClose launch and prelaunch photos of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Cargo Dragon from pad 39A from onsite at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) from the team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright

 

NASA SpaceX CRS-21 is actually a mission of many firsts:

The flight also marks the first time two Dragon will be docked to the ISS – including the SpaceX Crew 1 Crew Dragon Resilience that arrived in November.  It will also be the first cargo Dragon to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean vs. the Pacific Ocean.

CRS-21 delivers some 6,553 pounds (2,972 kg) of supplies, equipment, and critical materials needed to support a variety of science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 64 and 65.

The total pressurized cargo is 4150 pounds (1882 kg).

The unpressurized payload comprising the Nanoracks Bishop commercial airlock is 2403 pounds (1090 kg) stowed in the trunk section.

The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock “is a commercial platform that can support a variety of scientific work on the space station. Its capabilities include deployment of free-flying payloads such as CubeSats and externally-mounted payloads, housing of small external payloads, jettisoning trash, and recovering external Orbital Replacement Units. Roughly five times larger than the airlock on the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) already in use on the station, the Bishop Airlock allows robotic movement of more and larger packages to the exterior of the space station, including hardware to support spacewalks.”

The airlock will be installed onto an open  common berthing mechanism CBM on the Tranquility module Node 3 by astronauts using the SSRMS robotic arm.

NASA graphic shows location of Nanoracks Bishop airlock after installation on Tranquility Node 3. Screenshot Credit: NASA TV / Space UpClose

 

This NASA graphic shows the CRS-21 mission cargo manifest

NASA SpaceX CRS-21 Cargo Dragon manifest. Screenshot Credit: NASA TV / Space UpClose

NASA describes some of research on board: The science being delivered on this mission includes a study aimed at better understanding heart disease to support development of treatments for patients on Earth, research into how microbes can be used for biomining on asteroids, and a tool being tested for quick and accurate blood analysis in microgravity. The first commercially owned and operated airlock on the space station, the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, arrives in the unpressurized trunk of the Dragon cargo spacecraft. Bishop will provide a variety of capabilities to the orbiting laboratory, including CubeSat deployment, and support of external payloads.

Watch my Dec 7 interview on WFTV Ch 9 ABC News Orlando about launch of upgraded Crew Dragon to ISS and about the significance of the commercial research Bishop airlock provided by Nanoracks:

“Second SpaceX Dragon spacecraft docks at ISS”

https://www.wftv.com/video/?id=164c52d1-0615-42e0-8095-758b289b678c

Dr. Ken Kremer of Space UpClose interview on WFTV ABC News Orlando about NASA SpaceX CRS-21 and Nanoracks commercial airlock on 7 Dec 2020

My interview about competitor Sierra Nevada Corp Dream Chaser space plane resupply mission to ISS featured on Spectrum News 13 Orlando on Dec 4.

https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2020/12/03/space-florida-wants-shuttle-like-landings-to-return-to-the-space-coast#

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Cargo and Crew Dragons, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew-1, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020, NRO spysats and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

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 and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Please consider supporting Ken’s work by donating at Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

 

Palm Tree View: 1st upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft atop Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:17 a.m. EST on Dec. 6, 2020, on CRS-21 resupply mission carrying 6400 pounds science, cargo and Nanoracks commercial research airlock to the International Space Station – in this remote camera view. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

 

Model of Nanoracks Bishop airlock. Credit: Jean Wright/ Space UpClose

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Ken Kremer

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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