Spaceflight Insider

SpaceX’s CRS-22 Dragon arrives at ISS with new solar arrays

The CRS-22 Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking. Credit: NASA

The CRS-22 Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking. Credit: NASA

Some 40 hours after launch, SpaceX’s CRS-22 cargo Dragon docked with the International Space Station with new science and solar arrays for the orbiting laboratory.

Docking with International Docking Adapter 3 on the space-facing side of the Harmony module took place at 5:09 a.m. EDT (9:09 UTC) June 5, 2021. Aboard is more than 7,300 pounds (3,300 kilograms) of crew supplies, experiments and equipment for the seven-person Expedition 65 crew.

A view of the spacecraft's trunk section moments after it separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage. Inside can be seen the iROSA solar arrays. Credit: NASA/SpaceX

A view of the CRS-22 Dragon’s trunk section moments after it separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage. Inside can be seen the iROSA solar arrays. Credit: NASA/SpaceX

“It was a great approach and it was awesome watching it come on in. We’re glad its here,” said NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who, along with NASA’s Megan McArthur, was monitoring Dragon’s approach aboard the ISS. “Looking forward to all the science and other goodies that it brought up, along with our [iROSA] solar arrays. It’s going to be a great few weeks as we get into Dragon and get things out.”

This is the 22nd contracted SpaceX resupply mission and the 2nd for the company under the second Commercial Resupply Services contract. It launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 1:29 p.m. EDT (17:29 UTC) June 3 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

According to NASA, inside the capsule is 751 pounds (341 kilograms) of crew supplies, 2,028 pounds (920 kilograms) of science investigations, 115 pounds (52 kilograms) of spacewalk equipment, 760 pounds (345 kilograms of vehicle hardware and 129 pounds (58 kilograms) of computer resources.

In the unpressurized trunk section is a pair of ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays, also called iROSA, which are designed to augment the power production aboard the outpost. It’s the first of three pairs expected to be delivered over the next year or so.

The location of the six iROSA devices that are expected to be installed within the next year or so. The two brought to ISS with CRS-22 are set to be installed on the far port side of the ISS (on the right side of this graphic). Credit: NASA

The location of the six iROSA devices that are expected to be installed within the next year or so. The two brought to ISS with CRS-22 are set to be installed on the far port side of the ISS (on the right side of this graphic). Credit: NASA

When the space station was built in the 2000s, there it included eight massive solar array wings on various segments of the 360-foot-long (110-meter-long) Integrated Truss Structure.

The original 39-foot by 115-foot (12-meter by 35-meter) arrays were designed with a 15-year on-orbit life expectancy.

The oldest two arrays are now over 20 years old with the other six approaching their service life.

According to NASA, the arrays are currently generating up to 160 kilowatts of power. When all six iROSAs, each measuring 20 feet by 63 feet (6 meters by 19 meters), are deployed, the agency says the power production is expected to be boosted to about 215 kilowatts.

Later this month, the robotic Canadarm2 is expected to remove the arrays for astronauts to install them on the oldest solar array wings, located on the P6 truss segment on the far port side of the ISS.

Two spacewalks are scheduled — one on June 16 and another on June 20 — to install the devices.

There are several notable science investigations aboard the capsule. One is called UMAMI — Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions. It aims to use bobtail squid and bacteria to better understand the role gravity plays in shaping the molecular and chemical interaction between microbes and animal hosts, according to NASA.

An infographic over some of the items aboard CRS-22. Credit: Derek Richardson / Spaceflight Insider / Orbital Velocity

An infographic over some of the items aboard CRS-22. Credit: Derek Richardson / Spaceflight Insider / Orbital Velocity

Another is the Cell Science-04 study, which aims to characterize the molecular biology of tardigrades, also called water bears. The goal is to find genes involved in their adaptation and survival in high-stress environments.

Cotton root systems are also going to be studied in the TICTOC experiment, which stands for “Targeting Improved Cotton Through On-orbit Cultivation.” The goal is to learn how to develop cotton varieties that require the use of less water and pesticides.

There is also a portable ultrasound device aboard CRS-22 that astronauts will test in microgravity. NASA said it could become a critical medical capability for crews on long-term spaceflights, such as those to the Moon and Mars.

CRS-22 Dragon is expected to remain at the ISS for about a month while the crew unloads the contents of the vehicle.

Before undocking, the vehicle is slated to be loaded with equipment and experiments slated to be returned to Earth.

Once the spacecraft leaves the ISS, it’ll perform a deorbit burn and splashdown in the ocean off the coast of Florida.

Video courtesy of Orbital Velocity

Video courtesy of SciNews

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Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity.

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