SpaceX will launch its 26th cargo mission to the International Space Station for bringing food and supplies to the crew.
Beyond the external cargo, CRS-26 is prepared to deliver a second pair of new solar arrays using XTJ Prime space solar cells. They will be delivered to the station in the unpressurized trunk of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft. The installation of these new solar arrays will require two spacewalks: one to prepare the worksite with a modification kit and another to install the new panel.
The new experiments arriving at the orbiting laboratory will inspire future scientists and explorers, and provide valuable insight for researchers.
CubeSats planned for this mission: - TJREVERB, a 2U cubesat built by students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Cargo Dragon v2
This is the second generation of SpaceX's Dragon capsule.
Dragon 2 comes in two different types, each based on the same overall design. One variant is built to carry crew, called Crew Dragon. The other version is for cargo-only missions to the ISS.
Like Crew Dragon, Dragon 2 cargo capsules can be used up to five times, can autonomously dock and undock themselves from the ISS, and can bring thousands of kilograms of science and equipment safely back to Earth.
The capsules splashdown off the coast of Florida near the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the Kennedy Space Center to speed up recovery and refurbishment time between flights.
Photo: CRS-22 Dragon. Credit: John Kraus/Supercluster
Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond. Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket. Reusability allows SpaceX to refly the most expensive parts of the rocket, which in turn drives down the cost of space access.
Total launches: 195
Total landings: 153
Total reflights: 132
The Falcon 9 has launched 30 humans to orbit since May 2020
Height: 70 m / 229.6 ft
Diameter: 3.7 m / 12 ft
Mass: 549,054 kg / 1,207,920 lb
Payload to LEO: 22,800 kg / 50,265 lb
Payload to GTO: 8,300 kg / 18,300 lb
Payload to Mars: 4,020 kg / 8,860 lb
On January 24, 2021, Falcon 9 launched the first ride-share mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit. It was delivering a record-setting 143 satellites to space. And while this was an important mission for SpaceX in itself, it was also the moment Falcon 9 overtook United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V for the total number of consecutive successful launches.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 had become America’s workhorse rocket, launching 31 times in 2021. It has already beaten that record this year, launching almost an average of once a week. While most of the launches deliver Starlink satellites to orbit, the company is still launching the most commercial payloads to orbit, too.
Falcon 9 is a medium-lift launch vehicle, with the capability to launch over 22.8 metric tonnes to low earth orbit. Unlike any other rocket, its first stage lands back on Earth after separating from its second stage. In part, this allows SpaceX to offer the cheapest option for most customers with payloads that need to reach orbit.
Under its ride-share program, a kilogram can be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit for a mere 1.1 million dollars, far cheaper than all other currently operating small satellite launch vehicles.
The reusability and fast booster turnaround times have made Falcon 9 the preferred choice for private companies and government agencies. This has allowed SpaceX to capture a huge portion of the launch market.
Photo credit: SpaceX
NASA's historic Kennedy Space Center is located on Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has hosted decades of historic space missions since the early days of the Apollo program.
Today, Kennedy Space Center is a multi-user spaceport and hosts private companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and others.
SpaceX leases Launch Complex 39A at NASA's flagship facility and uses the pad to launch its Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets. The pad is also used to launch missions for the Commercial Crew Program for which SpaceX launches astronauts to the Space Station for NASA aboard their Crew Dragon capsule.
Launch Complex 39A was previously used by NASA to launch the Apollo 11 mission to land the first humans on the moon and Space Shuttle missions to assemble the International Space Station and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image: Jenny Hautmann for Supercluster
The Harmony module, also known within NASA as Node-2, was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in October 2007 on the STS-120 mission of Shuttle Discovery.
Harmony serves as the gateway between the US scientific and living modules and the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory and Japan's Kibo complex.
The module is equipped with two docking ports for US crew (Dragon and Starliner) and cargo (Dragon) spacecraft and also has one berthing port that can be used for either Northrop Grumman's Cygnus or Japan's HTV cargo ships.
Picture: A cargo Dragon docked to Harmony's zenith, or space-facing docking port. Part of Japan's Kibo complex can been seen to the left of Dragon. Credit: NASA
The Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship "Just Read The Instructions" is one of two Atlantic Ocean recovery ships for SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. It was first used exclusively in the Pacific Ocean before being brought through the Panama Canal to Louisiana and then Port Canaveral for refits and upgrades. Its first Atlantic Ocean mission supported the 8th Starlink launch in June 2020.