Double Dragons: SpaceX Cargo Dragon Docks to International Space Station

SpaceX Cargo Dragon Docks to Space Station

SpaceX Cargo Dragon docks to International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

While the International Space Station was traveling 268 miles over the southern Indian Ocean, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the space-facing side of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module for the first time at 1:40 p.m. EST, Monday, December 7. NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover monitored docking operations for Dragon.

SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon, which arrived 3 weeks ago, is still docked at the station. This is the first time two SpaceX capsules have been docked at the ISS.

ISS Configuration December 7 2020

December 7, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon vehicles, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus-14 resupply ship, all three from the United States, and Russia’s Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-17 crew ship. Credit: NASA

Some of the science being delivered on this mission includes a study aimed at better understanding heart disease to support development of treatments for patients on Earth, research into how microbes can be used for biomining on asteroids, and a tool being tested for quick and accurate blood analysis in microgravity. The first commercially owned and operated airlock on the space station, the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, arrives in the unpressurized trunk of the Dragon cargo spacecraft. Bishop will provide a variety of capabilities to the orbiting laboratory, including CubeSat deployment, and support of external payloads.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 21st contracted commercial resupply mission at 11:17 a.m. EST Sunday, December 6 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

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