Close-up of the new Cargo Dragon and Trunk. [credit:
Trevor Mahlmann ]
NASA and SpaceX are making final preparations for a cargo mission that will carry nearly three metric tons of supplies to the International Space Station.
This “CRS-21” mission is the 21st cargo supply mission that SpaceX will launch for NASA overall. But it is the first under a new supply contract that runs through 2024, and this will be the first to use an upgraded “Cargo Dragon 2” vehicle to ferry food, water, science experiments, and other materials to the orbiting laboratory.
The new cargo vehicle is a modified version of the Crew Dragon spacecraft that has flown humans to the space station twice this year, in May and November. The cargo variant lacks seats and cockpit controls, a life support system, and the Super Draco thrusters that are used as an emergency escape system if a problem occurs during launch.