Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Twice Flown SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station for Second Time

The SpaceX Dragon CRS-14 cargo ship was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm on April 4, 2018 as the space station orbited above the continent of Africa. Credit: NASA TV

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL –  Two days after successfully blasting off for the second time, a used SpaceX commercial Dragon successfully arrived early this morning, April 4, at the International Space Station (ISS) for the second time as the vehicles were traveling some 250 miles above Earth over the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa.

Working inside the domed Cupola module Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishige Kanai maneuvered the space station’s 57 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the private Dragon spacecraft at 6:40 a.m. EDT (1040 GMT) Wednesday, April 4.

Kanai was backed up by NASA astronaut Scott Tingle. Working together they captured Dragon some 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

“Capture complete,” radioed Tingle. “I don’t think it gets any better than that.”

“Capture confirmed,” replied Houston Mission Control. “Excellent job everyone”

“We had a very successful flight and capture this morning. That was nice and smooth”

Ground controllers then took command and maneuvered the robotic arm to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on the station’s Harmony module.  The installation on Harmony was completed at 8:30 a.m. EDT this morning as the combined complex was soaring some 250miles over the Pacific Ocean.

April 4, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Progress 69 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-07 and MS-08 crew ships. Credit: NASA

16 bolts and latches were then driven home to for form a hard mate between the two vehicles.

“Dragon is now firmly attached to the space station,” said NASA mission commentator Don Huot.

“The hatch will be opened tomorrow. The astronauts will begin a ‘fast and furious’ schedule to unload Dragon over the next four weeks.”

Dragon will remain attached for 30 days until early May when it will return to Earth with more than 3,500 pounds of research samples, hardware and crew supplies.

Robonaut 2 will also be returned for repair and eventual relaunch.

The crew will also extract the 3 external payloads mounted in Dragon’s unpressurized trunk using the robotic arm.  
The Dragon CRS-14 cargo freighter is jam packed with over 5800 pounds of science and supplies for the six person multinational crew serving aboard that will support more than 50 research investigations.
This the fourteenth SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida under the commercial resupply services (CRS) contract with NASA.
The mission utilized both a flight proven Falcon 9 booster and Dragon cargo vessel approved by NASA managers for only the second time.
Blastoff of the ‘used’ SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon CRS-14 commercial cargo freighter took place on time at 4:30 p.m. EDT Monday, April 2 from seaside Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, during an instantaneous launch window.

The total cargo on board amounts to 5836 pounds/2647 kilograms. Of that 3794 pounds/1721 kg is pressurized cargo and 2041 pounds/926 kg is unpressurized and loaded in the Dragon truck. 

The CRS-14 pressurized cargo manifest includes 758 pounds/344 kg of crew supplies, 2359 pounds/1070 kg of science investigations, 218 pounds/99 kg of spacewalk equipment, 326 pounds/148 kg of vehicle hardware, 108 pounds /49 kg of computer resources, 24 pounds/11 kg of Russian hardware.

Here's a NASA description of the science on Board:

Among the research arriving on Dragon is a new facility to test materials, coatings and components, or other large experiments, in the harsh environment of space. Designed by Alpha Space and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) provides a platform for testing how materials react to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, atomic oxygen, ionizing radiation, ultrahigh vacuum, charged particles, thermal cycles, electromagnetic radiation, and micro-meteoroids in the low-Earth orbit environment.

The Canadian Space Agency’s study Bone Marrow Adipose Reaction: Red or White (MARROW) will look at the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and the blood cells it produces – an effect likened to that of long-term bed rest on Earth. The extent of this effect, and bone marrow’s ability to recover when back on Earth, are of interest to space researchers and healthcare providers alike.

Dragon also is carrying an Earth observatory that will study severe thunderstorms and their role in the Earth’s atmosphere and climate, as well as upgrade equipment for the station’s carbon dioxide removal system, external high-definition camera components, and a new printer for the station’s crew.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX CRS-14, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: – – twitter @ken_kremer - ken at

Blastoff of SpaceX Flight-proven’ Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon CRS-14 cargo ship from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, on April 2 at 4:33 pm EDT to the ISS, as seen from the VAB roof. Credit: Ken Kremer/

Up close view of recycled SpaceX Dragon CRS-14 vessel loaded with 5800 pounds of science and supplies bound for the International Space Station from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, on April 2, 2018.   Credit: Ken Kremer/

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