Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25 | Falcon 9 Block 5

Lift Off Time
July 15, 2022 00:44:20 UTC
July 14, 2022 – 20:44:20 EDT
Mission Name
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25, a Commercial Resupply Service mission to the International Space Station (ISS)
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
SpaceX
Customer
(Who paid for this?)
NASA
Rocket
Falcon 9 Block 5 B1067-5
Launch Location
Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
Payload mass
~2,650 kg (~5,800 lb) of cargo
Where did the spacecraft go?
Dragon C208-3 rendezvoued with the ISS, ~400 km low Earth orbit (LEO) at a 51.66° inclination
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
Yes
Where did the first stage land?
It landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship A Shortfall Of Gravitas (ASOG)
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
There are no fairings on the Dragon 2
Were these fairings new?
There are no fairings on the Dragon 2
This was the:
3rd flight of Cargo Dragon 2 C209-3
5th SpaceX launch under the CRS 2 contract
– 25th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services mission
– 30th launch for SpaceX in 2022
– 130th booster landing
– 38th launch of any variant of Dragon
33rd visit of any variant of Dragon to the ISS
164th Falcon 9 launch
84th orbital launch attempt of 2022
81st successful orbital launch of 2022
Where to re-watch
SpaceX’s livestream

NASA’s livestream

How Did It Go?

Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25 (CRS-25) is a Commercial Resupply Service mission that flew to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX was awarded this mission by NASA back in 2016 and launched it on its Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket using a Cargo Dragon 2, C208-3. The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. CRS-25 was the fifth flight for SpaceX under NASA’s CRS Phase 2 contract and SpaceX’s 30th launch in 2022 compared to a total of 31 launches in 2021. On board are ~2,650 kg (~5,800 lb) of food, hardware, and scientific research.

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon arrived at the ISS on schedule and autonomously docked to the forward facing docking port of the Harmony module at 15:21 UTC. The Expedition 67 crew then proceeded with hatch opening to unload the space freighter’s goods.

CRS-2 SpX-25

The ISS is a lab like no other, so there are dozens of new experiments that will be delivered there by SpaceX’s Dragon. In addition to the research payloads, Dragon will ferry crew supplies such as clothes, food, and hardware and equipment up to the ISS. NASA’s ELaNa 45 mission also hitches a ride on CRS-25 as an auxiliary payload consisting of five CubeSats.

CRS-25 Research Payloads

On board of Cargo Dragon C208-3 are dozens of science experiments and technology demonstrations. The following list is only an excerpt of what has been ferried to the ISS. More information on the different science payloads can be found on the websites of NASA and the ISS National Lab.

ELaNa 45 Payloads

ELaNa is an initiative that was proposed by NASA and is managed by the Launch Services Program (LSP) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The main aim of this program is to collaborate with universities all across the US to design, manufacture, and launch research satellites into space. ELaNa brings university students closer to real space missions, giving them opportunities to dive in and get involved in the process from A to Z, from designing and assembling CubeSats, to launching and operating them. ELaNa 45 consist of the following CubeSats:

  • BeaverCube – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • CapSat-1 – The Weiss School, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
  • CLICK A – NASA’s Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California
  • D3 – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida
  • JAGSAT – University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama

CRS-2 SpX-25 Mission Profile

Dragon C208-3 separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 Block 5 at ~T+12 min. After that, it performed a series of thruster firings to adjust its orbit and reach the ISS. The spacecraft arrived at the ISS ~38 hours later, on July 16, at 15:21 UTC (11:21 EDT). Dragon autonomously docked to the ISS’ Harmony module. Upon Dragon’s arrival, the crew proceeded with unloading the cargo.

Dragon C208-3 will spend around one month at the ISS with its mission ending in August. After that, the spacecraft will travel back to Earth and will splash down under parachutes off the coast of Florida, returning valuable research and cargo to Earth.

Approximate Timeline

All times are approximate.

Pre-Launch

Hrs:Min:Sec
From Lift-Off
Events
– 00:38:00SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
– 00:35:00RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
– 00:35:001st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
– 00:16:002nd stage LOX loading begins
– 00:07:00Falcon 9 begins pre-launch engine chill
– 00:05:00Dragon transitions to internal power
– 00:01:00Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
– 00:01:00Propellant tanks pressurize for flight
– 00:00:45SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch

Launch

Hrs:Min:Sec
From Lift-Off
Events
– 00:00:03Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00Lift-Off
+ 00:01:12Maximum dynamic pressure (Max Q)
+ 00:02:27Main engine cutoff (MECO)
+ 00:02:30Stage separation
+ 00:02:38Second engine start-1 (SES-1)
+ 00:02:43First stage boostback burn begins
+ 00:03:15First stage boostback burn complete
+ 00:05:45First stage entry burn begins
+ 00:05:59First stage entry burn complete
+ 00:07:06First stage landing burn begins
+ 00:07:33First stage landing
+ 00:08:37Second engine cutoff-1 (SECO-1)
+ 00:11:49Dragon separation

What Is Falcon 9 Block 5?

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Block 5 is a medium-lift launch vehicle that stands out among others for its partial reusability. By re-flying boosters and fairings, SpaceX not only cuts down the cost of space access, but also increases the reliability of the rocket. Block 5 is the final iteration of the Falcon 9 that is designed, manufactured, and operated by SpaceX.

Falcon 9 Block 5. liftoff, Cargo Dragon 2, CRS-21 mission
Lift-off of the Falcon 9 Block 5, CRS-21 mission (Credit: SpaceX)

The rocket consists of a reusable first stage, an interstage, and a second stage. Falcon 9 Block 5 can be flown with either a fairing or a Dragon spacecraft. On the SpX-25 mission, the Cargo Dragon C208-3 will be used to deliver research and other payloads to the ISS.

Falcon 9 Block 5 is about 70 meters (229.6 ft) in height and 3.7 meters (12 feet) in diameter. The vehicle’s structures are made of an aluminum-lithium alloy, which results in a total dry mass of 549,054 kg (1,207,920 lb). The rocket’s payload lift capacity to low-Earth orbit (LEO) is 22,800 kg (50,265 lb).

First and Second Stage

First StageSecond Stage
Engine9 Merlin 1D engines1 vacuum optimized Merlin engine
Thrust Per Engine845 kN (190,000 Ibf), sea level
934 kN (209,971 Ibf), vacuum
992 kN (223,100 lbf)
Specific Impulse (ISP)285 s, sea level
313 s, vacuum
348 s

The Falcon 9’s first stage consists of aluminum-lithium alloy tanks for propellants and four landing legs, which are stowed at the base and deploy just before landing. Nine sea-level Merlin 1D engines power this stage. The second stage also consists of tanks for propellants and is powered by a single vacuum optimized Merlin engine or MVac. The main difference between these two variations of the Merlin engine is that the latter has an expanded nozzle that results in improved performance in near-vacuum conditions. The second stage is what will carry Dragon to its intended orbit allowing the spacecraft to rendezvous with the ISS.

Merlin engine, Falcon 9 Block 5
Schematic representation of the Merlin engine. (Credit: Everyday Astronaut)

The Merlin engine runs on rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOx), and uses a gas generator cycle. Falcon 9 uses helium to backfill the propellant tanks as RP-1 and LOx are being consumed by the engines during ascent.

The interstage connects the first and second stages of the vehicle and is responsible for their separation during flight. It also accommodates four hypersonic grid fins at the base. They help to orient the booster during re-entry.

The booster supporting this mission is B1067-5. It has already flown four times, with CRS-25 being its fifth flight delivering a Dragon capsule to the ISS for the fourth. This booster has flown two crew and two cargo missions with Türksat 5B being the only launch that didn’t deliver a Dragon into orbit.

B1067’s missionsLaunch Date (UTC)Turnaround Time (Days)
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-22June 03, 2021N/A
Crew-3November 11, 2021160
Türksat 5BDecember 19, 202138
Crew-4April 27, 2022129
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25July 15, 202278

Cargo Dragon 2

The CRS-25 mission is the third mission to the ISS for Cargo Dragon C208-3. Its first mission was CRS-21, SpaceX’ first launch under the CRS-2 contract. CRS-23 on August 29, 2021 marks its second flight with CRS-25 being the third flight to the ISS already.

C208’s missionsLaunch Date (UTC)Turnaround Time (Days)
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-21December 06, 2020N/A
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-23August 29, 2021266
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25July 15, 2022287

Cargo Dragon 2 is 8.1 m (26.6 ft in) in height and 3.7 meters (12 feet) in diameter. Compared to the original Cargo Dragon, the upgraded spacecraft can and will automatically dock to the ISS. The old version had to be manually berthed by the Canadarm2.

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, Dragon 2, CRS-23 mission
The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, Dragon 2 (Credit: NASA)

The Cargo Dragon 2 shares a similar design with the Crew Dragon spacecraft intended to carry astronauts to the ISS and back to Earth. However, there are some differences. The Cargo Dragon 2 does not have SuperDraco abort engines, nor a life support system since there will be no human passengers on board. In the pressurized section, the seats and crew displays have been swapped for cargo racks. The environmental control system has been also reduced both in size and complexity.

Overall, the CRS-2 SpX-25 mission’s success criteria will be successful deployment of the Cargo Dragon 2 to the dedicated orbit, its docking to the ISS, and recovery of the booster.

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