SpaceX Ship Upgrades Cargo Ship to Florida for First Orbital Dragon Rendezvous

SpaceX shipped the first upgraded Dragon 2 cargo spacecraft to Florida, opening the door for the first simultaneous space flight of both dragons.

The company, a modified version of SpaceX’s rapidly maturing Crew Dragon spacecraft, says the Cargo Dragon 2 “will be able to carry 50% more scientific payloads” than the original Cargo Dragon. Throughout his career, Cargo Dragon has identified numerous tectonic milestones and ultimately became the first civilian-developed spacecraft to reach, re-enter and splash into orbit. It is the first commercial spacecraft to transport and deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and the first routinely reused orbital capsule.

SpaceX retired its historic vehicle after successfully completing its 21st orbit launch and landing in April 2020, less than two months before the Crew Dragon begins its even more historic astronaut launch debut. Prior to Demo-2, Crew Dragon had both NASA and SpaceX Almost incredibly flawless launch debut Two months after the spacecraft’s first successful return of two NASA astronauts from orbit to Earth, SpaceX is preparing for the Crew Dragon’s astronaut launch debut at about the same time as Cargo Dragon 2 is preparing for it. Their debut.

The first upgraded Cargo Dragon 2 spacecraft were filmed in Hawthorne, California, just before shipping to Florida. (SpaceX)

With NASA’s October 10 update, SpaceX and the space agency have decided to postpone the launch of Crew Dragon’s Crew-1 a few weeks to make sure there is no common roots in the booster engine problem that recently stopped launching the Falcon 9 satellite. As a sister rocket. It is reasonable to ensure that the Falcon 9 booster B1061 (Crew-1), which appears to be built side by side at SpaceX’s Hawthorne plant in California, is not affected by the same issues that B1062 forced to stop launching US military GPS III satellites on October 2. Is not. .

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The Falcon 9 booster B1061 was launched statically at McGregor, Texas, around April 2020. (SpaceX)
The Falcon 9 booster B1062 was tested by McGregor just a few months later. (SpaceX)

As a result, Crew-1 slipped to some point from the October 23 and October 31 placeholder release dates to “early to mid-November”, but most external sources suggest that mid-to-late November targets are higher. . NASA and SpaceX did not confirm their arrival, but the Crew Dragon capsule C207 most likely arrived in Florida in late August or early September, after which the team prepared and handled the spacecraft for final inspection and closure procedures.

Meanwhile, SpaceX revealed that it had shipped to Florida a few days ago the Cargo Dragon, which was derived from the first Crew Dragon. This means that soon the company will be the first to begin pre-flight processing of two upgraded Dragons simultaneously. In particular, SpaceX did not provide a launch target in the CRS-21 update, but the NASA planning document (prior to the recent Crew-1 delay) stated that the mission was due to launch on NET November 22nd.

The Falcon 9 B1058 and capsule C206 prepare for the launch of the Crew Dragon’s first astronauts in May 2020. (NASA / Joel Kowsky)
SpaceX’s first astronaut-assisted crew dragon prepares to leave Hawthorne in early 2020. (SpaceX)
SpaceX’s first upgraded Cargo Dragon spacecraft were shipped to Florida ahead of the first orbital meeting of the two SpaceX spacecrafts. (SpaceX)

That said, the CRS-21 and Crew-1 are currently expected to be released in about two weeks, which can lead to some unique issues. Currently, both the Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon 2 are equipped with unique towers and Crew Access Arms (CAA) for astronauts to board and carry cargo, so they must launch from the Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39A. SpaceX’s Pad 39A turnaround record (the time between two launches on the same pad) is roughly 10 days, and for the Crew Dragon mission this number will be much higher.

If the current date is upheld, NASA will have to decide which SpaceX Dragon mission to launch first. Either way, however, a significant delay is required for the CRS-21 and Crew-1 to not mark the first time the two SpaceX Dragon spacecraft meet in orbit on the ISS. If successful, we can say without a doubt that SpaceX will solidify its position as the only astronaut company on Earth that can truly do everything from launching cheap and reusable rockets, space flight crew, space station resupply missions to orbital tourism and more.

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