A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship carrying 7,000 pounds of equipment lifted off from Kennedy Space Station Monday as part of a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
As the expedition began its 18-hour journey, the supplies included two additional roll-out solar blankets.
The mission was delayed on Saturday and Sunday owing to weather, but it was eventually launched on a northeasterly course matching the orbital track of the ISS.
The first stage, in its fifth flight, propelled the rocket through the lower atmosphere before separating and flying to the landing barge.
If all went as per plan, the ship will carry out a sequence of automated rendezvous rocket firings to catch up with its quarry Tuesday morning, moving in for docking at the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 5:50 am.
According to CBS News, “packed in its pressurised cabin, the section of the Dragon accessible to the crew inside the station, are 2,420 pounds of crew supplies, 1,082 pounds of space station hardware, 586 pounds of science gear, and 115 pounds of the spacewalk and computer equipment.”
“In the Dragon’s unpressurized lower trunk section are two ISS roll-out solar array blankets, or IROSAs, the fifth and sixth to be added to the station to augment the lab’s aging solar panels.”
Solar cells degrade with time, therefore Nasa is adding six IROSAs to the existing power system at a cost of $103 million.
Each 20-foot-wide roll-out blanket is attached to the base of an existing array and extends 63 feet when fully deployed, producing more than 20kw of power.
Nasa is now planning to order a final two IROSAs in the coming time to power the station power required to sustain agency-sponsored investigations, anticipated commercial activity, and the addition of one-or-more commercial modules between now and the ISS’s expiry at the end of the decade.