SpaceX to launch last new cargo Dragon spacecraft

WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Dragon launching quickly to the Worldwide House Station is the final cargo model of the spacecraft the corporate expects to construct, with another crewed spacecraft underneath building.

At an Nov. 18 briefing concerning the upcoming SpaceX CRS-26 cargo mission to the station, NASA and SpaceX introduced the launch, beforehand scheduled for Nov. 21 from the Kennedy House Heart, had slipped a day to Nov. 22 at 3:54 p.m. Jap. A launch that day would permit the Dragon to dock with the station Nov. 23 at 5:57 a.m. Jap.

Sarah Walker, director of Dragon mission administration at SpaceX, stated the delay stemmed from repairs to the spacecraft required after detecting a leak within the spacecraft’s thermal management system throughout pre-launch processing. The leak was tracked right down to a single flange whose rubber seal was broken, which has since been repaired.

These repairs “put us a few shift behind” the schedule for a Nov. 21 launch, she stated, resulting in the choice on the mission’s launch readiness evaluate to as a substitute try a launch Nov. 22. Climate forecasts undertaking solely a 30% probability of acceptable situations that day, nevertheless.

The launch would be the first flight of this spacecraft, designated C211, the third cargo model of the Dragon 2 spacecraft constructed by SpaceX. Since beginning its Business Resupply Providers 2 contract with the CRS-21 mission in late 2020, SpaceX has been alternating between two different cargo Dragon spacecraft, designated C208 and C209.

Along with the three cargo Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX has 4 Crew Dragon spacecraft, and Walker revealed on the briefing SpaceX plans to construct a fifth and certain closing Crew Dragon. “That is the final new cargo Dragon spacecraft we plan to construct,” she stated. “We not too long ago determined to construct another crewed spacecraft as properly.”

Beforehand, SpaceX executives stated 4 Crew Dragon spacecraft can be sufficient to fulfill its future wants. At an October 2021 NASA briefing, Walker stated the 4 Crew Dragon autos the corporate deliberate then “appear ample to fulfill our manifest, which is flourishing proper now.”

On the Nov. 18 briefing, she attributed the choice for a fifth Crew Dragon to additional development of that manifest. That included NASA’s choice so as to add eight ISS missions to SpaceX’s current business crew contract in addition to an “thrilling business human spaceflight manifest.” The brand new Crew Dragon, she stated later within the name, must be prepared for a primary flight “within the 2024 timeframe.”

Whereas every Crew Dragon or cargo Dragon mission requires a brand new trunk part, which is jettisoned previous to reentry, the capsule itself is designed for a number of flights. “About 15 flights is what we’re focusing on proper now,” she stated. Some parts should not prone to fly as many occasions, however general every spacecraft must be able to that many missions, she added. “The overwhelming majority of the capsule must be at 15 flights.”

If the CRS-26 mission doesn’t launch Nov. 22, Walker stated the following launch alternatives are Nov. 26 and 27. The hole, she stated, was partly resulting from airspace restrictions through the Thanksgiving vacation interval, in addition to orbital mechanics and the necessity to refresh among the cargo on board.

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