The Dragon CRS-21 mission, SpaceX’s twenty first house station cargo supply for NASA, launched Dec. 6, 2020, with 6,400 lbs. (2,903 kilograms) of provides and science tools for the seven-person crew of Expedition 64. After a one-day delay resulting from dangerous climate on the splashdown zone, the upgraded car autonomously undocked from the house station for the primary time on Tuesday (Jan. 12), and it splashed down west of Tampa about 35 hours later, at 8:26 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 13 (0126 Jan. 14 GMT).Whereas earlier Dragon cargo missions have ended with parachute-assisted splashdowns within the Pacific, the newly upgraded model of SpaceX’s cargo vessel is designed to land within the Atlantic Ocean, nearer to the science processing heart at NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida.
Associated: SpaceX’s 1st upgraded Dragon cargo ship docks itself at house station with science, goodies and new airlock
The CRS-21 mission was not solely the primary to land close to Florida, it was additionally the primary to autonomously dock at, and undock from, the Worldwide House Station. Earlier Cargo Dragons have relied on astronauts working the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the spacecraft and berth it with the orbiting lab.
Different house cargo supply autos, like Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft and Japan’s H-II Switch Car, are deliberately destroyed on the finish of their missions; house station astronauts fill the capsules with trash, then use Canadarm2 to ship them off towards Earth, they usually safely fritter away within the ambiance. SpaceX’s Dragon, nevertheless, is a reusable spacecraft designed to soundly ship science experiments again to Earth from the house station. The Dragon CRS-21 mission returned with greater than 4,400 lbs. (2,000 kg) of “helpful scientific experiments and different cargo,” NASA officers mentioned in an announcement.
“The upgraded cargo Dragon capsule used for this mission comprises double the powered locker availability of earlier capsules, permitting for a major improve within the analysis that may be delivered again to scientists,” NASA added. “Some scientists will get their analysis returned rapidly, 4 to 9 hours after splashdown.”
A few of the scientific cargo on board consists of engineered coronary heart tissue, organoids grown from human stem cells, biofilms that would corrode stainless-steel, zero-g fiber optics and extra.
SpaceX is planning to launch its subsequent Dragon cargo resupply mission, CRS-22, in Might of this yr. The corporate’s Crew Dragon capsule is presently docked with the house station and is predicted to return to Earth with its four-person crew in Might as nicely. The following Dragon launch can be one other Crew Dragon, which is scheduled to launch the Crew-2 mission with one other 4 astronauts in March.
Electronic mail Hanneke Weitering at firstname.lastname@example.org or comply with her on Twitter @hannekescience. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.