Featured image credit: NASA/SpaceX
Lift Off Time
|July 15, 2022 – 00:44:20 UTC|
July 14, 2022 – 20:44:20 EDT
|Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25, a Commercial Resupply Service mission to the International Space Station (ISS)|
|Falcon 9 Block 5 B1067-5|
|Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA|
|~2,650 kg (~5,800 lb) of cargo|
Where is the spacecraft going?
|Dragon C208-3 will rendezvous with the ISS, ~400 km low Earth orbit (LEO) at a 51.66° inclination|
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Where will the first stage land?
|It will land on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship A Shortfall Of Gravitas (ASOG)|
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
|There are no fairings on the Dragon 2|
Are these fairings new?
|There are no fairings on the Dragon 2|
How’s the weather looking?
|The weather is currently 70% GO for launch (as of July 14, 2022 – 13:00 UTC)|
This will be 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
Where to watch
What Does All This Mean?
Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25 (CRS-25) is a Commercial Resupply Service mission that will be heading to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX was awarded this mission by NASA back in 2016 and will launch it on its Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket using a Cargo Dragon 2, C208-3. The rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. CRS-25 will be 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 will be ~2,650 kg (~5,800 lb) of food, hardware, and scientific research.
The ISS is a lab like no other, so there are dozens of new experiments that will be delivered there by SpaceX’s Dragon. Additionally 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 will be dozens of science experiments and technology demonstrations. The following list is only an excerpt of what is being ferried to the ISS. More information on the different science payloads can be found on the websites of NASA and the ISS National Lab.
- Genes in Space-9
- Materials International Space Station Experiment-16-Commercial
- Rodent Research-22 (RR-22)
- The Effect of Microgravity on Human Brain Organoids
- Culturing of Human Myocytes in Microgravity: An In Vitro Model to Evaluate Therapeutics to Counteract Muscle Wasting
- Ring Sheared Drop
- Microgravity as a Model for Immunological Senescense and its Impact on Tissue Stem Cells and Regeneration
- Structure and Stability of Foams and Emulsions
- Study of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) in Microgravity
- P&G Telescience Investigation of Detergent Experiments
- Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation
- Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space
- Biopolymer Research for In-Situ Capabilities
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 will separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 Block 5 at ~T+12 min. After that, it will perform a series of thruster firings to adjust its orbit and reach the ISS. The current schedule suggests that the spacecraft will arrive at the ISS ~38 hours later, on July 16, at ~15:20 UTC (11:20 EDT). Dragon will autonomously dock to the ISS’ Harmony module. Upon Dragon’s arrival, the crew will proceed 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.
All times are approximate.
|– 00:38:00||SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load|
|– 00:35:00||RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins|
|– 00:35:00||1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins|
|– 00:16:00||2nd stage LOX loading begins|
|– 00:07:00||Falcon 9 begins pre-launch engine chill|
|– 00:05:00||Dragon transitions to internal power|
|– 00:01:00||Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks|
|– 00:01:00||Propellant tanks pressurize for flight|
|– 00:00:45||SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch|
|– 00:00:03||Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start|
|+ 00:01:12||Maximum dynamic pressure (Max Q)|
|+ 00:02:27||Main engine cutoff (MECO)|
|+ 00:02:30||Stage separation|
|+ 00:02:38||Second engine start-1 (SES-1)|
|+ 00:02:43||First stage boostback burn begins|
|+ 00:03:15||First stage boostback burn complete|
|+ 00:05:45||First stage entry burn begins|
|+ 00:05:59||First stage entry burn complete|
|+ 00:07:06||First stage landing burn begins|
|+ 00:07:33||First stage landing|
|+ 00:08:37||Second engine cutoff-1 (SECO-1)|
|+ 00:11:49||Dragon 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.
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 Stage||Second Stage|
|Engine||9 Merlin 1D engines||1 vacuum optimized Merlin engine|
|Thrust Per Engine||845 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
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.
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 missions||Launch Date (UTC)||Turnaround Time (Days)|
|Dragon CRS-2 SpX-22||June 03, 2021||N/A|
|Crew-3||November 11, 2021||160|
|Türksat 5B||December 19, 2021||38|
|Crew-4||April 27, 2022||129|
|Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25||July 15, 2022||78|
Cargo Dragon 2
The CRS-25 mission will be 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 missions||Launch Date (UTC)||Turnaround Time (Days)|
|Dragon CRS-2 SpX-21||December 06, 2020||N/A|
|Dragon CRS-2 SpX-23||August 29, 2021||266|
|Dragon CRS-2 SpX-25||July 15, 2022||287|
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.
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.