Crew Unpacks Dragon and Activates New Science

The upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station as both vehicles were orbiting above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico.
The upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station as both vehicles were orbiting above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico.

Six spaceships, three U.S. and three Russian, are parked at the International Space Station after Monday’s arrival of the upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle. The Expedition 64 crew will spend the rest of December focusing on science as 2021 shapes up to be a busy year on the orbital lab.

Two Dragon spaceships, one cargo craft and one crew ship, are docked to the station’s Harmony module for the first time ever. The Cargo Dragon docked Monday afternoon to Harmony’s space-facing port where it will stay for one month. The Crew Dragon has been docked to Harmony’s forward port since Nov. 16 and will return four astronauts back to Earth in the spring.

Cargo Dragon’s hatch was opened shortly after its automated docking and the crew soon began unpacking and activating the first of 2,100 pounds of new science investigations. The U.S. resupply ship’s main payload, the NanoRacks Bishop science airlock, will be installed with the Canadarm2 robotic arm to the Tranquility module later this month.

NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins began Tuesday offloading the Dragon-transported critical research samples and stowing them in science freezers to be examined later. Their crewmates Kate Rubins installed new science freezers in the station, while Victor Glover set up newly delivered habitats carrying rodents for analysis.

A new human stem cell experiment, Space Organogenesis, got underway today after JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi collected biological samples and research hardware from Dragon. Microgravity will give scientists insight into growing organs and observing genetic changes which could impact regenerative medicine.

In the Russian segment of the station, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov explored advanced space photography techniques before working on cargo operations with the docked Progress 76 resupply ship. His fellow cosmonaut, Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, worked on Earth observation hardware then serviced repair tools.

New SpaceX Cargo Dragon Docks to Station

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.
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.

While the International Space Station was traveling 268 miles over the southern Indian Ocean, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the space-facing side of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module for the first time at 1:40 p.m. EST, Monday, Dec. 7. NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover monitored docking operations for Dragon.

Some of 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.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 21st contracted commercial resupply mission at 11:17 a.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 6 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

New Dragon Spaceship Arriving at Station Today

The upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply ship lifts off atop the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 6 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply ship lifts off atop the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 6 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station, with an expected docking of the cargo spacecraft around 1:30 p.m. EST. NASA Television coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. Watch live at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will automatically dock to the space-facing side (zenith) of the station’s Harmony module with NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover monitoring operations. Dragon lifted off Sunday, Dec. 6 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The cargo spacecraft with more than 6,400 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory. It will be the first time a cargo Dragon autonomously docks to the station and will join the Dragon Resilience that brought the Crew-1 astronauts to orbit as the second Dragon spacecraft parked at the space station.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

SpaceX’s CRS-21 Underway; Upgraded Cargo Dragon En Route to Space Station

Liftoff of SpaceX's CRS-21 mission to the International Space Station.
A SpaceX 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, carrying the uncrewed cargo Dragon spacecraft on its journey to the International Space Station for NASA and SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission. Dragon will deliver more than 6,400 pounds of science investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory. The mission marks the first launch for SpaceX under NASA’s CRS-2 contract. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

SpaceX’s upgraded cargo Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff occurred at 11:17 a.m. EST.

The first launch for SpaceX under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract, CRS-21 will deliver supplies, equipment, and materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur aboard the orbiting laboratory during Expeditions 64 and 65.

The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is the first comercially funded airlock bound for the International Space Station on SpaceX's CRS-21 mission.
The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is packed in the Dragon spacecraft’s trunk on Oct. 12, 2020, inside SpaceX’s processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its ride to the International Space Station aboard the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission. Photo credit: SpaceX

Included in this delivery is the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, the first commercially owned and operated airlock that, once installed, will provide a variety of capabilities to the space station, such as payload hosting, robotics testing, and satellite deployment. It also will serve as an outside toolbox for crew members conducting spacewalks.

Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the space station tomorrow, Dec. 7. At approximately 1:30 p.m. EST, the spacecraft will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module – the first automated docking for a SpaceX cargo resupply mission. Live coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. EST on NASA TV and the agency’s website. NASA astronauts and Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will monitor docking operations.

Cargo Dragon’s arrival at the space station will mark the first time two Dragon spacecraft will be docked to the orbiting laboratory at the same time. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, that brought the Crew-1 astronauts has been docked since its arrival on Nov. 16.

The cargo Dragon spacecraft will remain attached to the space station for about one month, after which it will return to Earth with 5,200 pounds of research and return cargo, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.

To stay updated on all station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. Or, follow along the station blog at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/

Dragon Separates from Second Stage

Cargo Dragon separates from the Falcon 9's second stage during CRS-21.
SpaceX’s upgraded cargo Dragon spacecraft separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, continuing it’s journey to the International Space Station for the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission on Dec. 6, 2020. Photo credit: NASA

The uncrewed cargo Dragon has separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, as the spacecraft continues its journey to the International Space Station to deliver critical supplies, equipment, and material to support multiple science and research experiments that will take place aboard the space station.

Dragon is slated to arrive at the orbiting laboratory around 1:30 p.m. EST tomorrow, Dec. 7. It will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module – the first automated docking for a SpaceX cargo resupply mission – while NASA astronauts and Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover monitor docking operations.

Falcon 9 First Stage Sticks the Landing!

CRS-21 first stage landing
The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully lands on a droneship on Dec. 6, 2020, after carrying the uncrewed cargo Dragon spacecraft to orbit for SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission. Photo credit: NASA

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage has successfully landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. This marks the 100th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage, and the 35th landing on a droneship. This was the fourth flight for this particular first stage – one of those being the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission that carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station.

Next up, Dragon will separate from the rocket’s second stage to continue its solo journey to the space station.

Main Engine Cutoff, First Stage Separates

The nine Merlin engines in the first stage of the Falcon 9 have finished their burn, and the first stage has separated from the rocket. As the second stage continues carrying Dragon on its flight, the first stage will attempt a landing on the droneship “Of Course I Still Love You” in about five minutes.

LIFTOFF! SpaceX’s CRS-21 On Its Way to Space

Liftoff of SpaceX CRS-21 to the International Space Station.
A SpaceX 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, carrying the uncrewed cargo Dragon spacecraft on its journey to the International Space Station for NASA and SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission. Dragon will deliver more than 6,400 pounds of science investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory. The mission marks the first launch for SpaceX under NASA’s CRS-2 contract. Photo credit: NASA

We have liftoff! At 11:17 a.m. EST, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket climbs away from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the uncrewed cargo Dragon spacecraft on its journey to the International Space Station for SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission.

The first launch of the company’s upgraded cargo version of Dragon, the spacecraft can now carry more science payloads to and from the orbiting laboratory. Scheduled to arrive at the space station tomorrow, Dec. 7, Dragon will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module at about 1:30 p.m. EST, delivering critical supplies, equipment, and materials to support a variety of science research and experiments that will be done in a microgravity environment.

Up Next: Liftoff of SpaceX’s 21st Resupply Services Mission

CRS-21 logoIn approximately five minutes, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and uncrewed cargo Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. The rocket has been fueled with RP-1 (rocket-grade kerosene) and liquid oxygen, and Dragon has transitioned to internal power.

In just a few minutes, the final prelaunch checks will take place, and the SpaceX launch director will verify that we are a “go” for launch.

Expedition 64 Crew Set to Receive Special Holiday Delivery Among CRS-21 Payload

The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft is seen before it rolls out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, Dragon 2, is seen atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 2, 2020, as they prepare to be rolled out to Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) launch. Photo credit: SpaceX

The Expedition 64 crew aboard the International Space Station will be spending the holiday season a little differently this year. Teams here on Earth are hoping a special delivery arriving on SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission will help bring the crew some holiday cheer.

We asked the public, “What would you want supplied if you were spending the holidays in space?” As of Thursday, Dec. 3, more than 550 ideas have been submitted by virtual guests. More than 80% of those submissions mentioned some type of food or drink – from the generic “just give me chocolate, lots of chocolate,” to the more specific, “my Tia Dora’s menudo.”

It turns out, that “food and drink” theme is pretty accurate. Teams with the food lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston have packed the following items for the crew to enjoy:

Fresh Food Kit
Apples (Gala) 
Oranges (Navel and Blood)  
Mandarin Oranges 
Lemons

Holiday Bulk Overwrap Bags (BOB)
Cherry Blueberry Cobbler 
Cornbread Dressing 
Cranapple Dessert 
Jellied Cranberry Sauce 
Macaroni and Cheese 
Potatoes Au Gratin 
Roasted Turkey 
Shortbread Cookies 
Southwestern Corn 
Sparkle Gel 
Spicy Green Beans 
French Vanilla Cappuccino 
Wheat Flat Bread

Other Food BOBs
12 standard menu containers 
29 crew-specific menu and coffee tea preference containers 
Six food physiology containers

Also bound for the orbiting laboratory are vehicle hardware, supplies, and critical materials that will support a variety of science and research investigations scheduled to take place in a microgravity environment. Learn more about the CRS-21 mission and the payloads on board at: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/spacex_crs-21_mision_overview_high_res_0.pdf