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SpaceX CRS-20

NSSDCA/COSPAR ID: 2020-016A

Description

SpaceX’s 20th launch to resupply the space station signaled the start of the last flight under a $3 billion contract NASA awarded the company in December 2008. The Commercial Resupply Services, or CRS, contract was intended to ensure the space station continued receiving regular cargo shipments after the retirement of the space shuttle, which occurred in 2011.

After the delivery of this mission’s cargo load Monday, SpaceX will have carried more than 94,000 pounds (about 43 metric tons) to the International Space Station on 20 missions. Assuming the current mission ends successfully next month, 20 Dragon missions will have returned about 74,000 pounds (33 metric tons) of cargo from the space station back to Earth.

The Dragon capsule includes an outdoor science deck to be installed outside the space station’s European Columbus module. The external platform, named Bartolomeo, will be attached to the outer hull of the Columbus module later this month, and astronauts will perform a spacewalk in April to connect wiring harnesses to bring the new facility into use.

The Bartolomeo platform features 12 different mounting sites to accommodate science payloads, experiments, and technology demonstration packages. Developed by Airbus Defense and Space in partnership with the European Space Agency, the new facility adds to the space station capacity for research, and is aimed at offering accommodations for commercial experiments outside the orbiting complex.

The Dragon spacecraft contains about a ton of scientific experiments in its pressurized cabin, including biological research investigations studying microgravity’s impact on stem cells, intestinal diseases and chemical reactions.

Another experiment heading to the space station comes from Delta Faucet, which will study water droplet formation in microgravity in hopes of developing better-performing shower heads while reducing water usage.

The Dragon spacecraft also carries spare parts and replacement hardware for the space station’s research facilities and life support systems. Components launched Friday include upgraded hardware for the station’s urine processing system, which converts human waste into drinking water.

The new components will allow NASA teams to test out modifications designed to extend the lifetime of the urine processing system’s distillation assembly ahead of future missions to the moon and Mars, which will require longer-lasting life support equipment.

After about a month in orbit, astronauts will load research specimens and other cargo tagged for return to Earth into the Dragon spacecraft, which is scheduled to depart the space station and splash down in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Los Angeles on April 6.

Alternate Names

  • SpaceXCRS20
  • 45341
  • Dragon CRS-20
  • CRS-20

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2020-03-17
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States

Funding Agency

  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) (United States)

Discipline

  • Resupply/Refurbishment/Repair

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

 
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