In a recent development, SpaceX and NASA have made the decision to delay the upcoming Dragon cargo launch to the International Space Station (ISS) by an additional two days. Initially scheduled for November 5, the launch has now been rescheduled for November 9. This delay allows for the completion of final prelaunch procedures, ensuring the safety and integrity of the mission.
The CRS-29 mission, as it is known, will see the Dragon spacecraft lifted into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Its arrival at the ISS is anticipated for the early morning of November 11, following a successful launch at 8:28 p.m. EST on November 9.
The postponement comes as a response to an issue with one of the Dragon’s Draco thrusters. During the propellant load in preparation for the mission, a leak of nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer (NTO) was identified in a Draco thruster valve. Following standard protocol, the operation was paused to troubleshoot the problem. The valve was inspected, along with the associated data, and a decision was made to replace the thruster to ensure the mission’s safety and success.
SpaceX has been in constant communication with NASA throughout this process, prioritizing transparency and collaboration. Both teams reached a collective decision to shift the launch date to accommodate the necessary replacement of the thruster, followed by comprehensive system checkouts and thorough data reviews.
The CRS-29 mission holds great significance as the 29th commercial resupply services mission undertaken by SpaceX on behalf of NASA. Packed with over 6,500 pounds of supplies and scientific equipment, the Dragon spacecraft will contribute to ongoing research in low Earth orbit. Notable payloads include a two-way laser communication array, aimed at testing high-speed communications, a NASA experiment focusing on studying atmospheric disturbances, and a European Space Agency investigation that could potentially improve water recovery on the ISS.
Dragon is a unique spacecraft, as it possesses the capability to transport cargo from the ISS back to Earth. Unlike other robotic freighters, such as Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle and Russia’s Progress craft, Dragon is designed to be reusable, contributing to the sustainability of space exploration missions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q: Why was the Dragon cargo launch delayed?
A: The delay was caused by an issue with one of the Dragon’s Draco thrusters, which required its replacement to ensure mission safety.
Q: When is the new launch date for the Dragon cargo mission?
A: The Dragon cargo mission is now scheduled to launch on November 9, 2022.
Q: What is the significance of the CRS-29 mission?
A: The CRS-29 mission is the 29th commercial resupply services mission, delivering supplies and scientific equipment to the ISS on behalf of NASA.
Q: What payloads are aboard the Dragon spacecraft?
A: The Dragon spacecraft carries various payloads, including a two-way laser communication array, an atmospheric disturbance study experiment, and a water recovery investigation by the European Space Agency.
Q: Is Dragon the only spacecraft that can return cargo from the ISS?
A: Yes, Dragon is unique as it is designed to transport cargo from the ISS back to Earth, unlike other freighters that burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.