Launch to Set Up First Rendezvous of Dragon, Cygnus


The launch of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on April 8 will set the stage for an historic rendezvous in orbit.

Although the SpaceX and Orbital ATK spacecraft have made 12 launches between them, this will be the first time that the two vehicles, contracted by NASA and developed by private industry to resupply the station, are connected to the space station at the same time. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, which launched to the station March 22, is already attached to the station’s Unity Module. Dragon will take the port right next to it on the Earth facing side of the Harmony module. SpaceX made its first cargo resupply mission for NASA in 2012 and Orbital ATK followed with Cygnus the next year.

With the arrival of Dragon, the space station will tie the record for most vehicles on station at one time – six – which hasn’t happened since 2011. Cygnus, two Soyuz and two Progress vehicles station are currently docked to the orbiting laboratory. Read more about the CRS-8 mission ahead of tomorrow’s launch in this NASA feature about the flight.


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