Elon Musk powers NASA: At 11:50 pm EST on Friday (10:20 am IST on Saturday), SpaceX Dragon spacecraft took off for the International Space Station (ISS). Not just that, the private cargo spacecraft will deliver more than 4,300 pounds (nearly 2,000 kg) of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) cargo and science investigations to the ISS, the US space agency said in a statement. The investigations sent aboard the Dragon include a new facility which will be installed to the outside of the ISS during a spacewalk scheduled for this spring season.
Tweeting about the launch, Space X wrote that ever since Dragon became the first private spacecraft to visit the ISS in 2012, it had spent 520 days at the station, had ferried 95,000 pounds (over 43,000 kg) of cargo to the ISS and brought back 76,000 pounds (nearly 35,000 kg) of cargo to the Earth. Space X Founder and CEO Elon Musk retweeted the SpaceX tweet and wrote that the launch marked the final Dragon Version 1 mission.
The Dragon was launched on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, which is also a product of SpaceX. While tweeting about the Falcon 9, Elon Musk wrote that the rocket would land at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, from where the launch was scheduled, in the highest winds to mark an intentional envelope expansion.
The spacecraft would reach the International Space Station on Monday, and will remain there for a month till April 9, and then return to Earth with cargo and research. The flight marks SpaceX’s 20th flight with NASA.
What new facility will be installed outside ISS?
Called Bartolomeo, the facility created jointly by the European Space Agency and Airbus would attach to the exterior of the European Columbus Module, a science laboratory which is a part of the ISS. The facility would provide clear views of Earth and space, which would be useful for commercial and institutional users both, especially helpful in Earth observation, robotics, astrophysics and material science.