Dragon CRS-2 SpX-26 | Falcon 9 Block 5

Lift off time
(Subject to change)
November 21, 2022 – 21:15 UTC | 16:15 EST
MissionName
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25, a Commercial Resupply Service mission to the International Space Station (ISS)
Launch Provider
(What rocket company is launching it?)
SpaceX
Customer
(Who’s paying for this?)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Rocket
Falcon 9 Block 5 Booster TBD
Launch Location
Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
Payload mass
TBD
Where is the spacecraft going?
Dragon C211-1 will rendezvous with the ISS, ~400 km low Earth orbit (LEO) at a 51.66° inclination
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Yes
Where will the first stage land?
Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship TBD
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
There are no fairings on the Dragon 2
Are these fairings new?
There are no fairings on the Dragon 2
How’s the weather looking?
TBD
This will be the:
– 198th SpaceX mission
– 55th SpaceX mission of 2022
– 189th Falcon 9 mission
– 54th Falcon 9 mission of 2022
– 1st flight of Dragon 2 C211
– 165th orbital launch attempt of 2022
Where to watch
Once available, an official livestream will be posted here

What’s All This Mean?

Dragon CRS-2 SpX-26 (CRS-26) is a Commercial Resupply Service mission that will be heading to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver cargo. SpaceX was awarded this mission by NASA back in 2016 and will launch it on its Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket using a Cargo Dragon 2, C211-1, the first flight for this Dragon capsule. The rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. CRS-26 will be the sixth flight for SpaceX under NASA’s CRS Phase 2 contract.

This launch will mark the company’s 54th mission of the year as the holiday season approaches and the year begins to come close.

CRS-2 SpX-26

The International Space Station (ISS) is a large international collaboration between nations across the globe. Operating for over 20 years, the orbital laboratory needs regular visits from cargo vehicles to deliver new experiments, supplies like clothing, food, and water, and eventually the act has a garbage disposal for used items.

Currently, three different vehicles from three different entities have the ability to carry cargo to the ISS. Northrup Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft launched by NASA, ROSCOSMOS’s Soyuz Progress spacecraft, and SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft.

Cygnus recently launched a resupply mission to the ISS with the SS Sally Ride vehicle on their CRS-2 NG-18 mission from Wallops Island, Virginia, USA. The last Progress launch was in late October on the Progress MS-21 mission. The last SpaceX resupply mission was in mid-July of 2022.

CRS-26 Research Payloads

Every resupply mission hosts dozens of experiments and technology demonstrations. On CRS-26, these range from vegetation experiments to new solar arrays for the ISS to provide greater power consumption. These research experiments can range from NASA-funded experiments to private companies and universities. Due to the amount of research on CRS-26, only select payloads will be discussed in-depth here. If you’d like to learn more, reach out or explore NASA’s website.

Extrusion

The Extrusion experiment will be sending a lot of liquid resin to the International Space Station (ISS), and for very good reason. On Earth, people build structures like bridges and buildings to withstand gravity. Similar structures can be built differently in a reduced or micro gravity environment.

Even though the ISS has no effects of gravity stressing its structure, its structure was originally built on Earth. The ability to construct new structures in space, with materials such as the liquid resin being tested in this experiment, more complex structures can be built.

The Extrusion experiment will use the Nanoracks Black Box which requires crew installation and removal, but no further interaction. The resin will be injected into custom forms only feasible in microgravity.

Veggie

The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is an experiment aimed at producing fresh and plentiful crops on station. Unlike some experiments of similar nature before it, Veggie uses more of the environment in the cabin such as pulling from it’s temperature and carbon dioxide instead of regulating those itself.

For ease of use, Veggie is packed into one singular unit. It will utilize the EXpedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack on the Internation Space Station (ISS) for easy installation and operation.

With the ability to grow more vegetables, crew health should improve as well as they now have greater access to fresh foods, instead of waiting for a resupply vessel every few months.

During ground testing, researchers grew red dwarf tomatoes with great success. The next part of this long botanical study is Veg-05 which will test the growth and health of these “Red Robin” dwarf tomatoes at different light levels.

How Does Veggie Work?

Veggie’s goal is to be readily installable and operatable so crews can focus on other tasks instead of constantly working to keep their fresh food growing. Crops will first be placed in seed pillows and on PONDS. These pillows are then installed into a root mat where water is then injected.

The amount of water and light needed is regulated until the growth cycle has ended. A handheld light meter will be used to check the light levels of the plants. Crops are then harvested and the cycle repeats.

iROSAs

Two more rollable solar arrays will be launched to the International Space Station on SpX-26. These solar arrays will provide a 20% to 30% increase in power consumption for the ISS.

On November 15, 2022, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio performed an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) to prepare the ISS for mounting of the two new Roll Out Solar Arrays (ROSA).

iROSAs deployed. Visible as darker, smaller solar panels. (Credit: NASA/Crew-2)

Each array has been built from a composite carbon fiber which allows it to be rigid when deployed, by curling-up like a tape measure when stacked. The rolling and lightweight components of the ROSAs enable them to be launched with more equipment than heavier, non-rolling solar arrays.

These two solar arrays follow two other solar arrays that were previously launched on SpX-22 and have already been installed.

What is Falcon 9 Block 5?

The Falcon 9 Block 5 is SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage medium-lift launch vehicle. The vehicle consists of a reusable first stage, an expandable second stage, and, when in payload configuration, a pair of reusable fairing halves.

First stage

The Falcon 9 first stage contains nine Merlin 1D+ sea-level engines. Each engine uses an open gas generator cycle and runs on RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOx). Each engine produces 845 kN of thrust at sea level, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 285 seconds, and 934 kN in a vacuum with an ISP of 313 seconds. Due to the powerful nature of the engine, and the large amount of them, the Falcon 9 first stage is able to lose an engine right off the pad, or up to two later in flight, and is able to successfully place the payload into orbit. .

The Merlin engines are ignited by triethylaluminum and triethylborane (TEA-TEB), which instantaneously burst into flames when mixed in the presence of oxygen. During static fire and launch the TEA-TEB is provided by the ground service equipment. However, as the Falcon 9 first stage is able to propulsively land, three of the Merlin engines (E1, E5, and E9) contain TEA-TEB canisters to relight for the boost back, reentry, and landing burns.

Second stage

The Falcon 9 second stage is the only expendable part of the Falcon 9. It contains a singular MVacD engine that produces 992 kN of thrust and an ISP of 348 seconds. The second stage is capable of doing several burns, allowing the Falcon 9 to put payloads in several different orbits.

For missions with many burns and/or long coasts between burns, the second stage is able to be equipped with a mission extension package. When the second stage has this package it has a gray strip, which helps keep the RP-1 warm, an increased number of composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.

falcon 9 block 5 launch
Falcon 9 Block 5 launching on the Starlink V1.0 L27 mission (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Booster

The booster supporting the CRS-26 mission is currently unknown. Once more information is available, it will be found here.

falcon 9 booster, landing, drone ship
Falcon 9 landing on Of Course I Still Love You after launching Bob and Doug (Credit: SpaceX)

Cargo Dragon 2

The CRS-26 mission will be the first mission to the ISS for Cargo Dragon C211-1. Like its fellow Dragons C211 will hopefully return to Earth after serving its time on the ISS bringing back waste and other cargo. It will then be refurbished and used on another mission in the future.

C208’s missions Launch Date (UTC) Turnaround Time (Days)
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-26 November 21, 2022 N/A

Cargo Dragon 2 is 8.1 m (26.6 ft in) in height and 3.7 meters (12 ft) in diameter. Compared to the original Cargo Dragon, the upgraded spacecraft can and will automatically dock on the ISS. The old version had to be manually berthed by Canadarm2.

SpaceX's Cargo Dragon spacecraft, Dragon 2, CRS-23 mission
The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, Dragon 2 (Credit: NASA)

The Cargo Dragon 2 shares a similar design with the Crew Dragon spacecraft intended to carry astronauts to the ISS and back to Earth. However, there are some differences. The Cargo Dragon 2 does not have SuperDraco abort engines, nor a life support system since there will be no human passengers on board. In the pressurized section, the seats and crew displays have been swapped for cargo racks. The environmental control system has also been reduced both in size and complexity.

Overall, the CRS-26 mission’s success criteria will be successful deployment of the Cargo Dragon 2 to the dedicated orbit, its docking to the ISS, and recovery of the booster.

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