SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft completed a successful parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida around 11 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 30. The capsule undocked from the station’s forward port of the Harmony module Thursday at 9:12 a.m., completing the voyage in approximately 14 hours.
This marked the first time Cargo Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. The proximity to the coast of Florida enabled quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers hours after splashdown. The shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.
Dragon launched Aug. 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station the following day. The spacecraft delivered more than 4,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost.
While the International Space Station was traveling about 260 miles over Western Australia, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Monday, Aug. 30. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitored operations.
Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:
Building bone with byproducts REducing Arthritis Dependent Inflammation First Phase (READI FP) evaluates the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the growth of bone tissue and tests whether bioactive metabolites, which include substances such as antioxidants formed when food is broken down, might protect bones during spaceflight. The metabolites that will be tested come from plant extracts generated as waste products in wine production. Protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve scientists’ understanding of the physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women.
Keeping an eye on eyes Retinal Diagnostics tests whether a small, light-based device can capture images of the retinas of astronauts to document progression of vision problems known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). The device uses a commercially available lens approved for routine clinical use and is lightweight, mobile, and noninvasive. The videos and images will be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. The investigation is sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) with the German Aerospace Center Institute of Space Medicine and European Astronaut Centre.
The Nanoracks-GITAI Robotic Arm will demonstrate the microgravity versatility and dexterity of a robot designed by GITAI Japan Inc. Results could support development of robotic labor to support crew activities and tasks, as well as inform servicing, assembly, and manufacturing tasks while in orbit. Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards. The technology also has applications in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. The experiment will be conducted inside the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, the space station’s first commercial airlock.
Putting materials to the test MISSE-15 NASA is one of a series of investigations on Alpha Space’s Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, which is testing how the space environment affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. These tests provide insights that support development of better materials needed for space exploration. Testing materials in space has the potential to significantly speed up their development. Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete.
Helping plants deal with stress
Plants grown under microgravity conditions typically display evidence of stress. Advanced Plant EXperiment-08 (APEX-08) examines the role of compounds known as polyamines in the response of the small, flowering plant thale cress to microgravity stress. Because expression of the genes involved in polyamine metabolism remain the same in space as on the ground, plants do not appear to use polyamines to respond to stress in microgravity. APEX-08 attempts to engineer a way for them to do so. Results could help identify key targets for genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity.
Easier drug delivery
The Faraday Research Facility is a multipurpose unit that uses the space station’s EXPRESS payload rack systems, which enable quick, simple integration of multiple payloads . On this first flight, the facility hosts a Houston Methodist Research Institute experiment and two STEM collaborations, including “Making Space for Girls” with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando, Florida.
The Faraday Nanofluidic Implant Communication Experiment (Faraday-NICE) tests an implantable, remote-controlled drug delivery system using sealed containers of saline solution as surrogate test subjects. The device could provide an alternative to bulky, cumbersome infusion pumps, a possible game changer for long-term management of chronic conditions on Earth. Remote-controlled drug delivery could simplify administration for people with limitations.
A partnership between Faraday and Girls Scouts allows troops to play a role in conducting the control experiments, including providing them with images of the same experiments that are happening in space. The studies involve plant growth, ant colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle.
These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through Artemis.
SpaceX Dragon is approximately 30 minutes ahead of its targeted time to reach the International Space Station, with an expected docking of the cargo spacecraft around 10:30 a.m. EDT. Live coverage will now begin at 9 a.m. on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.
The spacecraft lifted off Sunday, Aug. 29, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the company’s 23rd Cargo Resupply Services mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitoring operations.
Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the orbital outpost Monday, Aug. 30, at 11 a.m. EDT. Docking coverage will begin at 9:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.
When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitoring operations.
This delivery, SpaceX’s 23rd cargo flight to the space station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, will support dozens of new and existing investigations. NASA’s research and development work aboard the space station contributes to both wellbeing on Earth and the agency’s deep space exploration plans, including returning astronauts to the Moon’s surface under Artemis.
The uncrewed Dragon spacecraft has separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, continuing on its journey to the International Space Station. The company’s 23rd cargo resupply mission will deliver more than 4,800 pounds of science experiments and research, crew supplies, and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.
Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, Aug. 30, at approximately 11 a.m. The spacecraft will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module, while Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitor its arrival.
Dragon is expected to spend about a month attached to the space station before autonomously undocking and returning to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean with about 4,200 pounds of research and return cargo.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines have finished their burn, and the first stage has separated from the rocket. As the second stage continues carrying Dragon on its flight, the rocket’s first stage will attempt a targeted landing on the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas.” That’s coming up in just about six minutes.
We have liftoff! At 3:14 a.m. EDT, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket powered off the launch pad from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, carrying the Dragon spacecraft on the company’s 23rd commercial resupply services mission.
Slated to arrive at the International Space Station on Monday, Aug. 30, at approximately 11 a.m., Dragon will deliver more than 4,800 pounds of science and research experiments, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the International Space Station. Coming up in about a minute, the rocket will pass through Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket. Then, the Falcon 9’s first and second stage will separate.
In just a few minutes, the company’s Dragon spacecraft – carrying several important NASA investigations – will blast off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A. The instantaneous launch window opens at 3:14 a.m. EDT.
The destination is the International Space Station, where it will dock for approximately one month. Dragon’s planned arrival is Monday, Aug. 30, at about 11 a.m., followed by docking about 90 minutes later. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will monitor operations while the spacecraft autonomously docks to the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module.
In just under 15 minutes, the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines will roar to life, sending the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft on its journey to the International Space Station for SpaceX’s 23rd commercial resupply services mission. The rocket has been fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 – rocket-grade kerosene.
In the next few minutes, the Falcon 9’s engines will begin to chill in preparation for launch. At five minutes before launch, Dragon will transition to internal power. Shortly afterward, the command flight computer will begin its final pre-launch checks. At about T-45 seconds, the SpaceX launch director will verify “go” for launch.
Liftoff is targeted for 3:14 a.m. EDT.
Dragon will deliver critical materials that will support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 65 and 66. To learn more about station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.