Dragon Docks to Station with Solar Arrays and Science

Dragon Docks to Station with Solar Arrays and Science

Nov. 27, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the Cygnus space freighter, the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and Crew Dragon Endurance, and Russia's Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 81 and 82 resupply ships.
Nov. 27, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the Cygnus space freighter, the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and Crew Dragon Endurance, and Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 81 and 82 resupply ships.

While the International Space Station was traveling over the Pacific Ocean, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at 7:39 a.m. EST, with NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada monitoring operations from the station.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 26th contracted commercial resupply mission for NASA at 2:20 p.m. EST, Saturday, Nov. 26, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends about one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

Big Hopes for Small Tomatoes

A continuous source of nutritious food is essential for long-duration exploration missions, and the typical pre-packaged astronaut diet may need to be supplemented by fresh foods produced in space. Researchers have been testing a plant growth unit on station known as Veggie and have successfully grown a variety of leafy greens. Veg-05, the next step in that work, focuses on growing dwarf tomatoes.

Picture of Health

Moon Microscope tests a kit for in-flight medical diagnosis that includes a portable hand-held microscope and a small self-contained blood sample staining device. An astronaut collects and stains a blood sample, obtains images with the microscope, and transmits images to the ground, where flight surgeons use them to diagnose illness and prescribe treatment.

The kit could provide diagnostic capabilities for crew members in space or on the surface of the Moon or Mars, as well as the ability to test water, food, and surfaces for contamination. The hardware also may enable improved medical monitoring on upcoming Artemis and Gateway missions.

Building Bigger Structures

On Earth, gravity deforms large objects such as the beams used in large-scale construction. Microgravity enables fabrication of longer and thinner structures without this deformation. Extrusion demonstrates a technology using liquid resin to create shapes and forms that cannot be created on Earth. Photocurable resin, which uses light to harden the material into its final form, is injected into pre-made flexible forms and a camera captures footage of the process. The capability for using these forms could enable in-space construction of structures such as space stations, solar arrays, and equipment.

The Space Exploration Initiative supports a range of microgravity and lunar research across science, engineering, art, and design. The experiment is packed inside a Nanoracks Black Box with several other experiments from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and is sponsored by the ISS National Lab.

On-Demand Nutrients

Supplying adequate nutrition is a major challenge to maintaining crew health on future long-duration space missions. Many vitamins, nutrients, and pharmaceuticals have limited shelf-life, and the ability to make such compounds on-demand could help maintain crew health and well-being. BioNutrients-2 tests a system for producing key nutrients from yogurt, a fermented milk product known as kefir, and a yeast-based beverage.

The investigation kicks off phase two of the five-year BioNutrients program, headed by NASA’s Ames Research Center and managed by Game Changing Development in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The program began with the launch of BioNutrients-1 in 2019. BioNutrients-2 employs a smaller system with a heated incubator that promotes growth of beneficial organisms.

The researchers also are working to find efficient ways to use local resources to make bulk products such as plastics, construction binders, and feedstock chemicals. Such technologies are designed to reduce launch costs and increase self-sufficiency, extending the horizons of human exploration.

Adding Solar Power

Two International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays, or iROSAs, launched aboard SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply mission for the agency and were installed in 2021. These solar panels, which roll out using stored kinetic energy, expand the energy-production capabilities of the space station. The second set launching in the Dragon’s trunk once installed, will be a part of the overall plan to provide a 20% to 30% increase in power for space station research and operations.

These arrays, the second of three packages, will complete the upgrade of half the station’s power channels. iROSA technology was first tested on the space station in 2017. Roll-out solar array technology was used on NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission and is planned for use on the Gateway lunar space station, a vital component of NASA’s Artemis program. The iROSA upgrades use the space station as a proving ground for the technology and research needed to explore farther into space.

Easing Gravity Transitions

Travelers to space all face the transition from one gravity field to another. On future exploration missions, astronauts may encounter three different gravity fields: weightlessness while traveling in space, the gravity of another planet, and Earth’s gravity when they return. These transitions can affect spatial orientation, head-eye and hand-eye coordination, balance, and locomotion, and cause some crew members to experience space motion sickness.

The Falcon Goggles hardware captures high-speed video of a subject’s eyes, providing precise data on ocular alignment and balance.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through NASA’s Artemis missions.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Mark Garcia

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Dragon Cargo Craft Arriving at Station Live on NASA TV

Dragon Cargo Craft Arriving at Station Live on NASA TV

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo craft lifts off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station on Nov. 26, 2022.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo craft lifts off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station on Nov. 26, 2022.

The SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station today, Sunday, Nov. 27, with an expected docking of the cargo spacecraft at about 7:30 a.m. EST. Live coverage is underway on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

When it arrives at the space station, Dragon will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module.

Dragon successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 2:20 p.m. EST, Saturday, Nov. 26, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying more than 7,700 pounds of research, hardware, and supplies to the International Space Station.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Mark Garcia

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Station Power Channel Handover Completed, No Impact to Operations

Station Power Channel Handover Completed, No Impact to Operations

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around of the orbiting lab that took place on Nov. 8, 2021.
The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around of the orbiting lab that took place on Nov. 8, 2021.

On Nov. 23, the team in Mission Control Houston performed a change in electrical power routing to remove one of the eight International Space Station power channels from use. This procedure was performed in response to unexpected readings and intermittent tripping of the 1B power channel in the overnight hours. When the power channel tripped, the batteries were no longer charged at expected levels so flight operators moved the 1B powered equipment from 1B to 1A. Space station systems are in a stable configuration, and the team is evaluating the event and discussing forward plans. Upcoming space station operations including Saturday’s launch of NASA and SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply mission, as well as spacewalks are not impacted.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

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Mark Garcia

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NASA to Share Artemis I Update with Orion at Farthest Point from Earth

NASA to Share Artemis I Update with Orion at Farthest Point from Earth

NASA will host a news conference at 5 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 28, from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss the status of the uncrewed Artemis I flight test as the Orion spacecraft reaches the mid-point of its Moon mission and its farthest distance from Earth at nearly 270,000 miles away.

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