A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station this morning, Sunday, November 27, carrying a wide array of science experiments and two new solar arrays for the station’s ongoing upgrades to its power system. Launched on Saturday, November 26 at 2:20 p.m. ET on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Dragon traveled at 7:39 a.m. ET yesterday afternoon and throughout the night to dock at the station tomorrow.
The Dragon docked with the station’s Harmony Module, and when it was undocked, its docking was overseen by NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada. The dragon, part of the mission dubbed CRS-26, joins a busy space station where vehicles are parked, including the Crew-5 Dragon, which brought astronauts to the station in October, a Cygnus-18 spacecraft that previously Supplies at an unmanned launch brought monthly, a Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft that carried two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut to the station in September, and two Russian Progress supply ships.
The Dragon included a series of science experiments and technology demonstrations, as well as supplies totaling £7,700, which will now be unloaded from the Dragon into the space station. The dragon will remain docked at the station for about a month before being loaded with cargo and the results of completed scientific experiments and returned to Earth on an unmanned flight.
Included in Dragon’s delivery are two new solar arrays for the space station. Dubbed International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays, or iROSAs, these arrays are planned to be deployed above the station’s existing array as part of a long-term project to upgrade the station’s power system. Although the new arrays are smaller than the old arrays, they still produce the same power due to technological improvements. Some of these new arrays have already been deployed, while the newly arrived arrays will be deployed on upcoming spacewalks.
“These solar panels, rolling out with stored kinetic energy, expand the space station’s power generation capabilities,” writes NASA. “The second set, to be launched after installation in the Dragon’s trunk, will be part of the overall plan to provide a 20-30 percent performance boost for space station research and operations.”