SpaceX’s CRS-19 Dragon cargo vessel safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean earlier today. Photo Credit: NASA
After spending nearly a month berthed to the International Space Station, a SpaceX Cargo Dragon capsule left the Station and splashed down marking the successful completion of its mission.
After its wet return to Earth, the spacecraft was recovered and brought back to dry land, marking yet another successful mission for the Hawthorne, California-based NewSpace company.
Dragon arrived at the orbiting lab back on December 8, 2019 after launching from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket three days prior to the spacecraft’s berthing.
Flight Controllers at Johnson Space Center in Houston issued technical guidance to several of the Station’s robotic functions to release Dragon at approximately 9:41 a.m. EST on January 5. The ISS’ Canadarm2 grabbed the spacecraft and released it to set it on the proper alignment in order for it to complete its deorbit burn.
As is the case with all cargo runs that SpaceX operates to-and-from the station, the CRS-19 Dragon brought home several scientific experiments completed on station. Dragon also brought back a faulty battery charge-discharge unit, which was replaced by astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir in the historic first all-woman spacewalk that took place on October 18.
The Rodent Research-19 experiment examined the effects of bone and muscle loss on mice during space flight as well as the use of molecular signaling pathways as a possible weapon to combat such problems that could potentially help human astronauts on long-duration space mission.
There is another experiment aimed to assist scientists on gaining a better understanding of the long-term effects of radiation on the human body. The Rotifer-B1 experiment uses small marine organisms, rotifers, as they are natural “radiation resistors.” Scientists sent them to the orbiting lab to see if they maintain this ability while in space.
The spacecraft developed and flown under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services program have become regular visitors to the space station. The CRS program has evolved over the years and that has resulted in some changes in terms of how much it costs NASA to have cargo and experiments flown to the ISS.
The cost of the second phase of the CRS program is slightly more (about 14 percent, according to a report appearing on SpaceNews) than its first phase. There are several reasons for this, including the entry of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Cargo Dreamchaser spacecraft as well as increased capacity and changes made to SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, this resulted in a roughly 50 percent increase in per-kilogram costs.
Having a life-long interest in crewed space flight, Desforges’ passion materialized on a family vacation in 1999 when he was able see the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96. Since then, Desforges has been an enthusiast of space exploration efforts. He lived in Orlando, Florida for a year, during which time he had the opportunity to witness the flights of the historic CRS-4 and EFT-1 missions in person at Cape Canaveral. He earned his Private Pilot Certificate in 2017, holds a degree in Aviation Management, and currently works as an Operations Analyst in the aviation industry in Georgia.
Always enjoy seeing first generation Cargo Dragon visits to and from ISS. In many ways SpaceX fulfils the promise of the the shuttle era: routine access to space.
While the NASA shuttle fleet were America’s premier heavy lifter and crew transport, it is sensible to separate these roles. And we will see this with both the second generation Cargo and Crew Dragon vehicles becoming operational soon.
The article title is wrong. The current CRS Dragon have only one more mission before being replaced by cargo version of Dragon 2 that autonomously docked with the ISS.
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