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Static Fire complete; Final Cargo Dragon Prepares to fly to ISS

Private Aerospace Company, Space X is currently making preparations for their next Commercial Re-supply flight to the ISS for NASA. What many do not realize, is that CRS-20 is actually one of Space X's most historical missions to date! Here's why:

On the morning of March 1st, 2020, Space X announced via Twitter that Falcon 9 successfully ran a Static Fire test on Pad-40, a test in which all 9 of Falcon's first stage engines ignite and fire for a few-second duration. A pre-launch wet dress rehearsal of sorts.

In the same announcement, Space X also confirmed the targeted launch date, which as of the time of writing this article, is No Earlier Than March 6th, at 11:50pm EST.

CRS-20, launching on Friday night, is the final Commercial Re-supply Services flight for customer NASA, under the CRS-1 contract, which was awarded to a younger and inexperienced Space X in December of 2008. The CRS-1 contract awarded to Space X, gave funds to the company to help develop the Falcon 9 launch vehicle & Dragon v1 spacecraft, and originally called for 12 Re-supply missions to the International Space Station. In 2015, shortly before the announcement of the phase CRS-2 contract, NASA extended CRS-1 to include an additional 8 missions. CRS-2, awarded to Space X in January of 2016, includes 6 more missions to the ISS for Falcon 9 and Dragon, but requires higher margins of cargo ( approximately 14,000 to 17,000 kg of pressurized cargo & 1,500 to 4,000 kg of unpressurized cargo) which will require some changes for Space X.

CRS-20, will also mark the final flight of the legacy Dragon v1 spacecraft, which has serviced the ISS for 20 missions over the past 8 years, and was the first ever commercial spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The particular Dragon flying on this mission previously flew the CRS-10 & CRS-16 missions, and will be the third Dragon to fly three times to the ISS.

Starting in late 2020, with the launch CRS-21, Space X will be using the Dragon v2 ( better known as Crew-Dragon), to fulfill the CRS-2 contract flights. These Dragons, will be identical to the versions used for Crew flights under the Commercial Crew Program, however they will only fly pressurized and unpressurized cargo, and will be stripped of any unnecessary hardware and avionics normally required for Crew missions. This change benefits Space X by allowing design to be streamlined to only one spacecraft moving forward, and being able to deliver higher volumes of cargo per mission, via the CRS-2 contract requirements.

For Floridians, and spaceflight enthusiasts, CRS-20 will also be quite the crowd pleasing special. The Falcon 9 first stage booster, is expected to make a Return to Launch Site landing at LZ-1 in Cape Canaveral, the first since CRS-18 in mid 2019. Photographers and creators all along the Florida space-coast are already planning for the spectacle which should surely be created in the night sky above Cape Canaveral.

Are you sad to see Dragon v1 retire? Are you excited to see Dragon v2 fly cargo missions? Will you be watching the Hover-Slam landing from Cape Canaveral? Be sure to share this article on Social Media and let us know!

For more Spaceflight news, photo content, and discussion, stay tuned right here to, and all of our social media pages!



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