SpaceX, the leading aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services firm, has reportedly launched its 21st CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) mission for NASA to the International Space Station, using a completely new version of its Dragon capsule spacecraft. This novel cargo Dragon has superior carrying capacity and could dock fully and independently with the Space Station, both enhancements over the previous iteration.
This marks the first ever launch of the redesigned cargo Dragon and the first mission under the company’s new CRS-mission series under a novel, renewed deal with NASA. It is transporting nearly 6,400 lbs of supplies for both the crew and the Space Station, along with experimental equipment and supplies for the research being conducted on the ISS.
The new variant can carry over 20% more than the previous SpaceX cargo spacecraft, and it also claims to have double the number of powered lockers for temperature-controlled transportation of experimental material.
The novel cargo Dragon is an improved version of the company’s Crew Dragon model, which ferried astronauts to ISS during November’s Crew-1 flight and May’s Demo-2 mission.
The novel launch was the firm’s 100th successful Falcon 9 flight, and SpaceX has flown nearly 43 of those using recovered as well as refurbished boosters. The mission further comprises recovering the Falcon 9 first stage, which has flown 4 times till now. It is the 68th victorious booster landing for the firm till now.
The next CRS-21 mission was an engagement between the ISS and the cargo Dragon, scheduled to take place on Monday. The capsule would autonomously dock with one of the Station’s novel international docking adapters, specifically designed to make the mechanized docking procedure possible. This would also be the second Dragon to dock at the station, as Crew Dragon of SpaceX is still there, from previous month’s crew mission.