SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the International Space Station on Saturday, June 5th. NASA television
A SpaceX cargo ship that launched Thursday June 3 arrived safely on the International Space Station (ISS) this morning, Saturday June 5. This was SpaceX’s 22nd replenishment mission, and the unmanned ship conducted a variety of experiments, as well as upgrades for the space station and supplies for the crew.
The Space Cargo Dragon spacecraft launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at around 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday, carried by a Falcon 9 rocket. The Dragon then traveled over Thursday night and Friday before arriving and docking on the ISS at 5:09 a.m. ET on Saturday. The spacecraft docked with the Harmony module on the space-facing side of the station, under the supervision of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from aboard the station.
NASA also shared an impressive video clip showing the kite flying into orbit as it approaches the ISS during the day:
The @SpaceX Cargo Dragon goes into orbit during the day as it approaches the @Space_Station for docking this morning: pic.twitter.com/AbuLLzrXCq
– NASA (@NASA) June 5, 2021
The Dragon carried over 7,300 pounds of supplies, including new solar panels to be added to the ISS as part of a long-term upgrade of the station’s power system. The roll-out solar arrays (iROSA) are more efficient than the station’s 20-year-old modules and are intended to increase the available output.
There are also a number of scientific experiments in the cargo, including experiments with microscopic and incredibly robust creatures called tardigrades, also known as water bears. The researchers hope to learn more about how these creatures survive in extreme environments. And these aren’t the only bizarre creatures embarking on a voyage into space, as they are joined by the glow-in-the-dark bobtail squid, tiny sea creatures used in research into the relationship between host animals and microbes.
A total of five spaceships are now docked at the station. In addition to the newly arrived Cargo Dragon with the code CRS-22, there is also a Crew 2 dragon that brought a group of four astronauts to the station in April of this year, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship named after Katherine Johnson, and two Russian ships: a Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and a Progress 77 supply ship.
NASA shared a graphic showing the location of all ships currently on the ISS:
June 5, 2021: Configuration of the International Space Station. Five spaceships are attached to the space station, including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon, the cargo ship Northrop Grumman Cygnus and the Russian occupation ship Soyuz MS-18 as well as the supply ship ISS Progress 77. NASA