SpaceX Launches CRS SpX-20 Dragon Resupply Mission to ISS
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the CRS SpX-20 (Dragon) mission on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 4:50 AM (UTC) / 11:50 PM EST. For the 20th and final time, a SpaceX Dragon 1 cargo module was lofted to the ISS. The picturesque late-night launch also featured a successful landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 back at Cape Canaveral, and was the 50th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage booster. The capsule, on its third trip to the station, was successfully berthed to the station’s Harmony Module on March 9th at 10:25 UTC / 06:25 EDT using the Canadarm, with US astronaut Jessica Meir at the controls. Future SpaceX cargo modules will be uncrewed versions of the new Dragon 2 capsule, which will not contain crew seating, life support, space toilets, or other accommodations such as the crew-operated flight controls and the Super Draco abort thrusters. Perhaps most importantly, the new version of the Dragon will be able to self-dock at the station like the current Progress modules do. Aboard CRS-20 were almost 2,000 kg / 4,400 lbs of cargo and experiments, including an outdoor deck which will be mounted to the station during a future spacewalk. The Bartolomeo platform, as it is called, has 12 mounting points which will allow for remote, robotic installation of future commercial scientific experiments designed to be exposed to the vacuum of space. The deck was built in Germany and is owned by Airbus Defense and Space, a European aerospace corporation. It cost an estimated 40 million Euro (US$45 million) to construct. Assuming a successful return to Earth later, the Dragon 1 will have delivered roughly 43 metric tons of cargo, supplies and experiments to the ISS, while returning about 33 metric tons of experimental results back to Earth.