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SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Delivers Scientific Experiments To ISS
A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has successfully completed its resupply mission to the International Space Station. The capsule was carrying a wide range of scientific experiments alongside a pair of new solar arrays to upgrade ISS’ power systems.
The capsule took off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The capsule docked with ISS’ Harmony module, and its docking was overseen by NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada.
Dragon Joins A Busy ISS
As a part of the CRS-26 mission, the Dragon capsule has joined a busy space station where five spacecraft are already parked. The list includes the Crew-5 Dragon capsule, a Cygnus-18 spacecraft, two Russian Progress resupply ships, and a Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft.
The Dragon capsule carried several scientific experiments and technology demonstrations weighing 7,700 pounds. The spacecraft will remain docked at the ISS for almost a month before it is filled with cargo and the results of accomplished experiments. It will return to the Earth uncrewed.
The spacecraft also has two new solar arrays for the ISS. Dubbed Called International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), these arrays will join the existing array and upgrade the station’s power system.
What Will The New Solar Arrays Do?
While the new arrays are smaller in size compared to the old ones, they are still capable of producing an equal amount of power, thanks to improved technology. Some of the new arrays have already been deployed, while some of them will be deployed in the coming days through spacewalks.
“These solar panels, which roll out using stored kinetic energy, expand the energy-production capabilities of the space station,” NASA writes. “The second set launching in the Dragon’s trunk once installed, will be a part of the overall plan to provide a 20% to 30% increase in power for space station research and operations.”
Expanding The Fleet
The launch has expanded SpaceX’s fleet to three vehicles. The new design allows the spacecraft to dock with ISS autonomously, an ability that was missing from the previous generation. The old version required help from ISS’ robotic arms for the docking procedure.
SpaceX also has a fleet of four Crew Dragon capsules which is set to grow in the coming years. SpaceX has launched six astronaut flights so far, with the first crewed missions to the ISS launching in 2020.