This is a cargo variant of the second-generation SpaceX Dragon vehicle.
Height: 8.1 m / 26.7 ft
Diameter: 4 m / 13 ft
Capsule Volume: 9.3 m / 328 ft
Trunk Volume: 37 m / 1300 ft
Launch Payload Mass: 6,000 kg / 13,228 lbs
Return Payload Mass: 3,000 kg / 6,614 lbs
Current to this mission:
Total launches: 41
Total reflights: 18
Visits to the ISS: 36
For the CRS-28 mission, SpaceX’s Dragon will deliver new science investigations, food, supplies, and equipment for the international crew, including the next pair of IROSAs (International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays).
These solar panels, which roll out using stored kinetic energy, will expand the energy-production capabilities of the space station. This will be the third set launching in the SpaceX Dragon’s trunk, and once installed, will help provide a 20% to 30% increase in power for space station research and operations.
To advance climate monitoring efforts, students from York University in Toronto, Ontario, are providing a camera that will observe snow and ice coverage in northern Canada. Other investigations launching include Genes in Space-10, a student-designed DNA experiment sponsored by ISS National Laboratory, and the next generation of seeds for NASA's Plant Habitat-03, which studies plant adaptation to the space environment.
ISS Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSA)
Third 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.
Thor-Davis, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), observes thunderstorms from the space station. This vantage point allows researchers to see the electrical activity from above, particularly the inception, frequency, and altitude of recently discovered blue discharges. Scientists plan to estimate the energy of these phenomena and their effect on the atmosphere. A better understanding of lightning and electrical activity in Earth’s atmosphere could improve atmospheric models and provide a better understanding of Earth’s climate and weather.
Helping Plants Chill in Space
Plants exposed to environmental stress, including spaceflight, undergo epigenetic changes, which involve adding extra information to DNA rather than changing it. Plant Habitat-03 (PH-03), led by Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert Ferl at the University of Florida, assesses whether plants grown in space can transfer such adaptations to the next generation and, if so, whether a change continues or stabilizes. The investigation creates a second generation of spaceflight plants using seeds previously produced on orbit and returned to Earth. Results could provide insight into how to grow multiple generations of plants to provide food and other services on future space missions. This investigation also could support development of strategies for adapting crops and other economically important plants to marginal and reclaimed habitats on Earth.
Thawing Ice, Solar Storms, and Attitude Recovery
Mission 26 for the station’s Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) includes Nanoracks ESSENCE, sponsored by the ISS National Lab and developed by universities in Canada and Australia. It carries a wide-angle camera to monitor thawing of ice and permafrost in the Canadian Arctic, which could provide a better understanding of the effects on Earth's climate and support better local infrastructure planning. The satellite also carries a solar energetic proton detector to collect data on solar proton events (SPEs), periods of solar activity that emit highly energized radioactive protons. Radioactivity from these events can damage the structure and electronic components of spacecraft; understanding its effects could support designs to make future CubeSats more resistant to radiation. In addition, the investigation demonstrates a novel method to recover control of a satellite’s attitude if one of its attitude actuators fails. This could expand uses of satellites in the future.
Watching Cosmic Weathering
Nanoracks IRIS, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, observes weathering of geological samples from direct solar and background cosmic radiation and determines whether changes are visually detectable over short time scales. The investigation also demonstrates experimental sun sensors, torque rods (which provide attitude control and detumbling for satellites), and a battery heater. Results could provide insight into similar processes on planetary bodies and, when combined with data from asteroid sampling missions, improve understanding of the origins of asteroids. A collaboration between graduate, undergraduate, and middle school students in Canada, the project provides hands-on experience that promotes interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics studies and careers.
A student-led Genes in Space investigation will test a method to measure telomere lengthening in space. Telomeres are sections of DNA that protect chromosomes from damage. Results from research on telomere lengthening could aid in the development of future therapeutics to combat the aging process for people on Earth or those living in space. This project is from 2022 Genes in Space competition winner Pristine Onohua, a student at East Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Through the annual Genes in Space student research competition, founded by Boeing and miniPCR and supported by the ISS National Lab and New England Biolabs, students in grades 7 through 12 can propose pioneering DNA experiments that utilize the unique environment of the space station. Winning proposals are developed into flight projects carried out on station. Results from several past Genes in Space student projects have been published in peer-reviewed journals, furthering scientific knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
An investigation from Stanford University aims to leverage microgravity to improve the synthesis of materials for higher-efficiency and more economical photovoltaic devices (which convert sunlight into electricity) for solar energy applications. Renewable energy sources contribute 22% to global electricity generation, and photovoltaic devices are a fast-growing contributor to solar energy solutions. In this project, the research team seeks to anneal copper indium sulfide (CulnS2) semiconductor crystals in microgravity to reduce defects that occur when the crystals are produced on Earth.
A team from the University of Southern California will utilize Astrobee—NASA’s free-flying robotic system onboard the space station—to test a new, autonomous spacecraft docking system called CLINGERS. Docking and undocking reconfiguration capabilities for modular spacecraft will be critical in the future low Earth orbit economy, and this system aims to combine a mechanical docking system with rendezvous sensors to enable docking with both active and passive objects. If successful, technologies like CLINGERS could make it easier to safely move objects in space, which is key to developing an in-orbit construction ecosystem.
SpaceX CRS-28 will also carry supplies for the continuation of two projects that launched on previous missions, one from Commercial Service Provider Redwire Space and one from pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb. Redwire Space is using its BioFabrication Facility (BFF) to bioprint a human meniscus, a protective piece of cartilage between the bones in the knee. The microgravity environment onboard the space station allows the tissues to be printed without scaffolding, which is required on Earth to prevent tissues from collapsing under their own weight. Bristol Myers Squibb will continue its research to improve the crystallization of biologic medicines (protein-based therapeutics derived from living cells). Results could allow the company to enhance the formulation and stability of these drugs so they can be given as a simple injection just under the skin, reducing the time patients have to spend at medical care facilities.
Three CubeSat satellites were built in part of the Northern Space Program for Innovative Research and Integrated Training (Northern SPIRIT). These CubeSats were constructed as a collaboration between Yukon University, Aurora Research Institute in the Northwest Territories, and the University of Alberta.
This initiative is supported by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) as a part of the Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP). In addition to what's below, all three satellites have a primary goal of gathering magnetic field data of the ionosphere to study small-scale field-aligned currents.
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 splash down 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.
Credit: SpaceX, NASA, and ISS National Lab
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.
Total launches: 258
Total landings: 216
Total reflights: 191
The Falcon 9 has launched 42 humans into 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
A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG) is a SpaceX autonomous spaceport droneship (ASDS), operating out of Port Canaveral, Florida. The droneship had been teased by Elon Musk frequently since it was first announced in 2018 and made its debut mission during CRS-23.
Image Credit: Jenny Hautmann for Supercluster
Download the Supercluster App to view spacecraft traffic and the crewmembers aboard the International Space Station and China's Tiangong Space Station.
Use the web version of our Stations Dashboard on Supercluster's website.
We track "Arrivals and Departures" from both stations through a new "Timetable" function for crew rotations and cargo resupplies.
You can also toggle back and forth from the ISS to Tiangong to see their relative positions over Earth through our mini-map.
A new update also assists users in toggling push alerts to view space stations passing over their locations.
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