SpaceX conducted a static fire if the Falcon 9 that will take the upgraded Cargo Dragon capsule to the Space Station this weekend.
The first launch for SpaceX under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract, CRS-21 is scheduled to lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 11:39am EST.
Weather officials with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff, with primary concerns revolving around flight through precipitation, the cumulus cloud rule, and thick cloud layer rule.
SpaceX has completed 20 cargo Dragon missions to and from the space station. The company has delivered over 95,000 pounds of supplies and returned 75,000 pounds. "Cargo resupply from U.S. companies ensures a national capability to deliver critical science research to the space station, significantly increasing NASA's ability to conduct new investigations at the only laboratory in space," the agency wrote in a press release.
The CRS-21 mission will be the first resupply mission that will utilize SpaceX's upgraded version of the cargo Dragon capsule, that is capable of carrying 50% more payload mass. This week NASA announced it targets to conduct the mission no earlier than December. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying Dragon will liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Dragon capsule will carry a variety of equipment on the upcoming flight. "On October 10, teams moved the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock to SpaceX’s processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center [...] Two days later, it was packed in the Dragon spacecraft’s trunk for its ride to the orbiting laboratory," the agency shared. The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is already aboard the Dragon capsule's unpressurized trunk, ready to be delivered (pictured below). An airlock is a segment that is used like a airtight door to safely transfer cargo between the inside and outside of ISS.