Monday, December 18, 2017

Dragon Attached to Station for Month of Cargo Transfers

The Dragon resupply ship is pictured just 10 meters away from the space station’s Canadarm2. Credit: NASA

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 8:26 a.m. EST on Sunday, December 17. The 13th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-13) delivered more than 4,800 pounds of supplies and payloads to the station.

Among the research materials flying inside Dragon’s pressurized area, one investigation will demonstrate the benefits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in a microgravity environment. Designed by the company Made in Space, and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the investigation will attempt to pull fiber optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fiber optic glass. Results from this investigation could lead to the production of higher-quality fiber optic products for use in space and on Earth.

Dragon is carrying a Space Debris Sensor (SDS) that will measure the orbital debris environment around the space station for two to three years. Once mounted on the exterior of the station, this one-square-meter sensor will provide near-real-time debris impact detection and recording. Research from this investigation could help lower the risks posed by orbital debris to human life and critical hardware.

Also on board is NASA’s Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor, or TSIS-1, that will measure the Sun’s energy input to Earth. TSIS-1 measurements will be three times more accurate than previous capabilities, enabling scientists to study the Sun’s natural influence on Earth’s ozone, atmospheric circulation, clouds and ecosystems. These observations are essential for a scientific understanding of the effects of solar variability on the Earth system.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2018 and return to Earth with more than 3,600 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.

Expedition 54-55 Flight Engineers Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are on their way to the space station after a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:21 a.m. EST Sunday, December 17 (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time). The trio will orbit the Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module, at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, December 19. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Credit: NASA

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