When SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft heads uphill at the end of the month, the young spacecraft has a long set of objectives to pass prior to being given permission to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS). However, should Dragon achieve the historic first, it will not only provide some welcome cargo, but it will have the opportunity to show off its downmass ability.
Dragon Mission C2+:
As such, SpaceX’s four leaf clover – once again making the mission patch (not yet confirmed to be official, but acquired via L2 documentation) – will hope to add an element of luck to Dragon’s opening objects related to the C2 elements of the mission, allowing for the flight’s progression into the complicated C3 elements associated with proximity operations, as Dragon gains the “Tally Ho” from the International Space Station.
Upon the completion of the nominal leak checks, hatch opening between the ISS and Dragon will not only provide yet another milestone, but also a welcome bonus for the Station’s crew, given the SpaceX vehicle will be carrying 520kg of cargo (or 460kg minus the packaging).
The manifested cargo includes Food and Crew Provisions, 306 kilograms’ worth in total, including crew meals and crew clothing.
“13 bags standard rations. Food, about 117 standard meals, and 45 low-sodium meals. 5 bags low sodium rations. Crew clothing. Pantry items (batteries, etc). SODF and Official Flight Kit, ” noted the manifest, as listed under USOS (U.S. On-Orbit Segment) Cargo.
Dragon will also be carrying what is classed as Utilization Payloads, 21 kilograms worth in total, including the NanoRacks Module 9 – and ice bricks – for cooling and transfer of experiment samples for US National Laboratory.
“NanoRacks-CubeLabs Module-9 uses a 2 cube unit box for student competition investigations using 15 liquid mixing tube assemblies that function similar to commercial glow sticks. Science goals for NanoRacks-CubeLabs Module-9 range from microbial growth to water purification in microgravity, ” added the manifest.
Also included in the upmass are Cargo Bags (123 kilograms), which will be repositioned for future flights. Computers and supplies (10 kilograms), such as a Laptop, batteries, power supply cables will also ride uphill with the Dragon.
None of the manifest cargo is deemed as vital to the ISS, meaning the Station will not miss out on critical items in the event Dragon is unable to arrive at the ISS.
Cargo runs in general are vital to the Station, however, not least since the end of the massive capability enjoyed by the ISS via the Space Shuttle fleet. With the orbiters now retired, an array of resupply vehicles are aiming to take up the slack, ranging from the ongoing Russian Progress vehicles, to Europe’s ATV, Japan’s HTV and – to a very small extent – the Russian Soyuz vehicles.
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