The SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule arrived at the International Space Station early Tuesday morning (June 6) carrying 7,000 pounds (3,175 kg) of supplies and science experiments.
The robotic dragon is launched over A.J SpaceX The Falcon 9 rocket launched Monday (June 5) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and reached the orbital location at 5:50 a.m. EDT (0950 GMT) after an 18-hour orbital chase. The capsule will remain attached to the space-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module for about three weeks.
The current Dragon mission is called CRS-28, because it is the 28th flight that SpaceX has flown for NASA under a series of commercial resupply services contracts. Among the mission’s payloads are two more International Space Station Solar Power Arrays, or iROSAs, that will be installed on the outpost’s exterior by spacewalking astronauts to increase their power output.
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NASA officials have said that getting all iROSA hardware up and running will boost electricity generation on the International Space Station by 20% to 30%.
The science equipment provided by the capsule includes a technology demonstration of autonomous space station docking systems called CLINGER and Genes In Space-10, which will test a method for measuring telomere length in microgravity.
Telomeres are regions of DNA at the end of a chromosome. Telomeres shorten as a person ages, a phenomenon linked to the onset of certain cancers and other diseases, as well as to general age-related decline.
Dragon is expected to stay on the International Space Station for 21 days on CRS-28, then return to Earth for a parachute-assisted ocean splash.
Dragon is the only cargo ship capable of achieving such a safe return. The two other robotic cargo planes currently in service — the Russian Progress spacecraft and Cygnus, built by the US company Northup Grumman — are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when their time in orbit ends.
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