SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule will arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday morning (November 27) and you can watch the rendezvous live.
The robotic Dragon rover is scheduled to dock at the orbital lab on Sunday around 7:30 a.m. EST (12:30 GMT). Watch the action live here on Space.com courtesy of NASA TV or directly through the space agency (opens in a new tab); coverage begins at 6:00 a.m. EST (11:00 a.m. GMT).
Sunday’s encounter will end a brief orbital chase for Dragon; the SpaceX cargo ship launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday afternoon (November 26) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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Dragon is loaded with approximately 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of cargo. The manifesto includes two more iROSAs (International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays), equipment designed to augment the laboratory’s existing solar wings in orbit.
The ISS will eventually feature six iROSAs which together will increase the station’s power supply by 20-30%. Spacewalk astronauts have installed two of the new arrays so far.
Dragon will also deliver a wide variety of science experiments to the ISS on this trip. For example, a station-bound study will grow dwarf cherry tomatoes in an effort to help speed up alien food production. Another investigation will continue previous research in microgravity with 3D cultured heart tissue (opens in a new tab)test potential therapies that could prevent or slow the development of heart disease.
Dragon’s current mission is called CRS-26 because it’s the 26th robotic cargo flight that SpaceX is making to the ISS for NASA. CRS-26 was scheduled to take off on Tuesday (November 22) but was pushed back by bad weather.
Cargo Dragons typically stay docked to the ISS for about a month, but CRS-26 will stay aloft for about 45 days, NASA officials said. The extra time was allocated, in part, to allow for the spacewalks needed to install the iROSAs.
CRS-26 will end with a parachute-assisted ocean dive. Dragon is the only currently operational freighter that returns to Earth in one piece after its missions. The other two active freighters – Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle and the Russian Progress spacecraft – are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when their time in orbit is up.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Where Facebook (opens in a new tab).