A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship docks at the space station to deliver solar arrays, seeds and more
SpaceX’s newest Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) early Sunday (November 27) to deliver tons of fresh supplies, new solar wings and even some ice cream to the orbiting lab.
The robotic one Spaceship Dragon hopped by the orbiting lab on Sunday around 7:39 a.m. EST (1230 GMT) as the two spacecraft floated high over the Pacific Ocean.
“We’re excited to unpack and get to work,” NASA astronaut Josh Cassada radioed Mission Control from the station after the successful docking.
“We hope you can enjoy your well-deserved and long-awaited ice cream soon,” replied Mission Control’s Megan Harvey.
Dragon is packed with about 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of cargo. The manifesto includes two new ones International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), equipment designed to augment the orbiting laboratory’s existing solar wings.
The ISS will eventually include six iROSAs, which together will increase the station’s power supply by 20% to 30%. Space astronauts have installed two of the new arrays so far.
Dragon also delivered a wide variety of science experiments to the ISS during this trip. For example, one study designed for the station will grow dwarf cherry tomatoes from seed in an effort to help increase food production beyond Earth. Another study will continue the previous microgravity study with 3D-cultured heart tissue (opens in new tab)testing potential therapies that could prevent or slow the development of heart disease.
The current Dragon mission is called CRS-26 because it is the 26th robotic cargo flight that SpaceX has flown to the ISS for NASA. CRS-26 was supposed to take off on Tuesday (November 22), but it did pushed back by bad weather.
Cargo Dragons typically stay tethered to the ISS for about a month, but CRS-26 will stay in the air for about 45 days, NASA officials said. The extra time was granted in part to allow for the spacewalks needed to install iROSA.
CRS-26 will end with a parachute descent into the ocean. Dragon is the only currently operational cargo ship that returns to Earth intact after its missions. The other two active cargo ships — Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle and the Russian Progress craft — are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when their time in orbit is up.
Mike Wall is the author of “There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).
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