SpaceX hit another home run as it launched a Falcon 9 rocket this week from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a Dragon cargo ship perched on top. It arrived at the International Space Station Saturday morning and docked. Now there are two SpaceX Dragons docked at the ISS, one which carried four astronauts and the second one carried cargo. They are orbiting the Earth at 4.76 miles per second.
The Dragon delivered 7,300 pounds of goodies to the ISS. The heavy items were two new sets of roll-out solar arrays to beef up the aging ISS electrical capacity. Four more arrays will be delivered in the months ahead. Hard to believe but the ISS has been continuously occupied for almost 21 years, the longest continuous human presence in low Earth orbit, having surpassed the previous record of just shy of 10 years held by the Russian Mir space station.
In addition to the solar arrays, the Dragon is delivering more than 2,000 pounds of scientific experiments, including some interesting organisms like tardigrades (also known as “water bears”) and Bobtail squid. The astronauts keep extremely busy conducting scientific experiments. The return of the dragon in July will make a lot of scientists on the ground very happy. They can’t wait to get their hands on the goodies being returned.