SpaceX: Dragon cargo capsule successfully docks with space station - what was on board?

This marked SpaceX’s 28th cargo mission to the ISS

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The Dragon cargo capsule successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS) after SpaceX launched it for NASA on Monday 5 June after a two-day weather delay. This was SpaceX’s 28th cargo mission to the ISS and is also known as the CRS-28 mission. 

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida at 11:47 EDT (16:47 BST) for an 18-hour trek, and docking was scheduled for today (Tuesday 6 June) at 5:54 EDT (10:54 BST). 

The mission was a commercial resupply services mission. But what was it carrying and can you see the capsule? Here is what you need to know. 

What was the Dragon cargo capsule carrying? 

Dragon is carrying around 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms) of science investigation supplies, as well as provisions such as food for the station's crew. NASA was promoted to transfer some of the intended cargo to Dragon from a delayed launch of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus ISS resupply vehicle, NG-19 so the space station’s provisions did not diminish too much. 

NASA’s ISS chief scientist Kirt Costello said during the pre-launch press briefing that the CRS-28 mission is "making up for the delays we had in our NG Cygnus vehicle arriving at Station. So, we're sending up lots of extra logistics crew supplies for the crew to keep them going throughout the end of the year.”

This marked SpaceX’s 28th cargo mission to the ISS (Image: NASA)This marked SpaceX’s 28th cargo mission to the ISS (Image: NASA)
This marked SpaceX’s 28th cargo mission to the ISS (Image: NASA)

According to Space.com, scientific research onboard the CRS-28 contained new experiments, and replenishing materials for over 30 ongoing projects. Some of the new experiments include the CLINGER technology demonstration for autonomous space station docking systems, microgravity-induced DNA mutation of telomeres and blue energy thunderstorm discharge research. 

Around six CubeSats, miniature satellites used for low Earth orbit, were on board, which mostly comprised of student-run projects from the Canadian Space Agency's Canadian CubeSat program.

Moonlighter, which was not part of the program, will instead provide the platform for a space-based cyber hacking challenge. It was provided by the Aerospace Corporation, in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory and Space Systems Command. 

Also on board was the next pair of ROSAs (International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays), which are being attached above the ISS' existing solar panels in order to augment station electricity needs. 

How can you see the Dragon Capsule? 

On Monday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the robotic Dragon cargo capsule, and nine minutes later the Falcon9’s first stage came back to Earth for a pinpoint touchdown on the SpaceX droneship - A Shortfall of Gravitas. Around 12 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 upper stage deployed the Dragon capsule in low orbit. 

On the other side, the International Space Station tweeted that the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft can be seen with its nose cone open approaching the space station above western Asia. 

No video footage was shown of the Dragon actually docking to the ISS, but a live NASA audio feed reveals the docking was successful after all checks had been completed. 

SpaceX shared a picture via Twitter of the Dragon successfully docked. 

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