SpaceX and the Dragon Cargo to the ISS

Interior of Dragon Spacecraft Prior to Launch to ISS
Image Credit: NASA

NASA has release a series of images of the preparations leading up to the launch of Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).

The launch is scheduled for 30 April from Cape Canaveral and launch complex 40 at 9:22 AM Phoenix time (1622 UTC). The mission is designed to satisfy both the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program (COTS) level 2 and 3 requirements. Officially, the mission will be successful if it satisfies the COTS 2 requirements. All of us hope that both sets of requirements will be met, and the Dragon will deliver its cargo to the ISS.

NASA has released an overview of the Dragon mission along with a review of the objectives for the mission.

The Dragon is the only spacecraft with down mass capability other than the crewed Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian Progress, European Space Agency (ESA) ATV and Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) HTV all burn up upon re-entry. The up mass and down mass manifest for Dragon include:

  • Going up:
  • 117 standard meals. 45 low sodium meals
  • Crew clothing
  • Pantry items
  • Module 9 nano-racks with student experiments
  • Spare cargo bags
  • Laptop, batteries, related supplies
  • “Official flight kit”
  • Going down:
  • “Crew preference items”
  • Hardware from several past experiments
  • Some ISS hardware bits
  • Some EVA-gear sized for previous crew members