SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launches Dragon Supply Ship to Space Station

Falcon 9 lifts off with the the cargo Dragon CRS-20 mission. (Credit: NASA webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster launched a Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday evening from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The vehicle will arrive at the station on Monday.

Dragon is filled with approximately 4,500 pounds of supplies, experiments and payloads for astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory. The spacecraft’s unpressurized trunk is transporting ESA’s Bartolomeo commercial research platform, which will be installed on the exterior of the space station.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster landed safely back at Cape Canaveral. The stage previously flew on the CRS-19 mission in December 2019. It was the 50th landing of a Falcon first stage.

It was the 20th and final Dragon resupply mission under SpaceX’s first Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. This mission was also the final flight of the original Dragon cargo version.

The next flight will be the first for the upgraded Dragon 2 vehicle. SpaceX will continue to deliver cargo to ISS under contract to NASA until 2024.

When Dragon arrives at the space station on Monday, Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir of NASA will grapple Dragon, with Andrew Morgan of NASA acting as a backup. After Dragon’s capture, mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.

The rendezvous and berthing will be covered live on NASA TV.

Monday, March 9

  • 5:30 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins of Dragon arrival to the station and capture. Capture is scheduled for approximately 7 a.m.
  • 8:30 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins of Dragon installation to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station

Dragon will remain at the space station for about four weeks, after which the spacecraft will return to Earth with research and cargo.

The Dragon spacecraft launched on Friday previously supported the CRS-10 mission in February 2017 and the CRS-16 mission in December 2018.