A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft on Monday docked itself to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver 6,400 pounds of science investigations, a new airlock, and other cargo. The spacecraft was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and performed the first autonomous docking for SpaceX.
“This 21st contracted resupply mission for SpaceX is the first flight of an upgraded Dragon design, similar to that of the Crew Dragon used to transport astronauts to and from the station,” NASA said in a statement.
Last month, SpaceX Crew-1 mission arrived at the space station with four astronauts as the Dragon capsule completed the automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft carried astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker from NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The four astronauts joined a trio of space travellers who had reached the ISS in a record time of just over three hours on October 14 aboard Russia’s Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos entered their new orbital home for the six-month mission.
The ISS is currently home to seven astronauts, and NASA said that people on Earth can watch the spaceship with two Dragon capsules aboard fly overhead, that too without using a telescope. The American space agency further added that people in the Washington, DC area can watch the space station zoom across the sky starting at 5:46pm ET on Tuesday. According to NASA, the ISS is the third brightest object in the sky following the Sun and the Moon.