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Dragon will arrive at the station and dock at the Harmony module’s space-facing port just over 24 hours after the launch. After it lands at the space station, there will be two Dragon vehicles attached to the laboratory for the first time.
US aerospace company SpaceX has successfully launched its Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) to complete its 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission. The redesigned capsule delivered Christmas presents for the Space Station and its crew as well as supplies to continue the research at the ISS.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 6, 2020
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket started its flight at Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 11:17 a.m. EDT (1617 GMT). About 9 minutes later, the cargo’s first stage returned to Earth and landed on one of SpaceX’s drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Called “Of Course I Still Love You,” the ship serves as a recovery vessel. It catches falling boosters and returns them to port for further use.
Dragon will arrive at the station and dock at the Harmony module’s space-facing port just over 24 hours after the launch. After it lands at the space station, there will be two Dragon vehicles attached to the laboratory for the first time. The other is the Crew Dragon “Resilience” that launched on November 15.
The flight is the 24th launch for NASA this year. Besides, it is the 100th successful Falcon 9’s take-off, which is a significant milestone for SpaceX. So far this year, the company conducted 24 missions, two of which have been to the International Space Station. The next step is the launch of a communications satellite for Sirius XM. According to SpaceX, it will take place no earlier than December 10.
The new SpaceX Dragon capsule has several improvements in comparison with the previous version. Firstly, it boasts a greater carrying capacity. In particular, it is 20% more than the last cargo spacecraft from SpaceX. Secondly, the new Dragon capsule has twice the number of powered lockers for climate-controlled transportation of experimental material. In addition, it can dock fully autonomously with the Space Station.
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Brought Christmas Presents for Astronauts
The craft has provided the ISS crew with 6,400 lbs. (2,903 kilograms) of supplies and science equipment. Among them were crushed asteroid samples for a biomining study, a new medical device to provide rapid blood test results for astronauts in space, and much more.
Besides, the astronauts on orbit have received some Christmas gifts.
Kenny Todd, NASA’s Deputy program manager for the International Space Station (ISS), commented:
“The crew is going to get some type of Christmasy food on orbit. I don’t think that will be any surprise to them, but anything more than that … I don’t like to get out in front of Santa Claus. Let’s see what happens when they open the hatch.”
As Todd has said, the Dragon was carrying roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, shortbread cookies, and tubes of icing.