It was a good day for the third cargo resupply mission for the International Space Station, which was launched by NASA and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX). This was the second time SpaceX used a brand new Falcon 9 rocket for a mission in 2021. Last year, SpaceX used a lot of new rockets.
This year, it was the least amount of new rockets SpaceX has used in a full year in its history. The new booster that landed soon after liftoff marked a century of booster landings by the company that wants to get to Mars by reusing its rockets quickly. It is the only company in the world that can land its orbital-class rockets.
SpaceX sends a handheld tissue printer and other experiments to the International Space Station as part of a historic launch.
There have been two SpaceX launches in 2021 using new rockets, the lowest number in the company’s history and better than 2013 when all launches were carried out using new rockets. Since the first Falcon 9 rocket landed in 2015 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, it is also the 100th Falcon 9 recovery, a feat that took SpaceX six years to complete.
This morning, SpaceX’s second-generation Dragon capsule transported three tonnes of cargo to the ISS on the new launcher that lifted to the sky early in the morning. Onboard the space laboratory, this cargo contains provisions for the crew to celebrate the holidays, as well as studies ranging from biology to cancer research to materials science.
Crew Dragon, SpaceX’s next spacecraft, launched in November, only a few days after the previous Crew-2 mission returned to Earth after testing its endurance limitations. As a result of today’s flight, SpaceX was able to launch three missions in less than four days from three distinct launch sites.
For the first time since NASA and SpaceX extended their cargo delivery contract, CRS-24 is the fourth mission to be flown. Following the Crew-4 launch in the first half of 2021, SpaceX will conduct its first private crewed voyage to the International Space Station, following Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa’s visit to the station earlier this month.. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has also signed up for a journey to the moon on SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle.
The vast bulk of SpaceX’s 31 launches this year were devoted to the company’s Starlink satellite broadband system. The proportion of SpaceX’s 31 launches in 2021 that were Starlink-related increased slightly from 53 percent to 54 percent, or 17 of the total.
SpaceX’s director of Dragon mission management, Ms. Sarah Walker, made this point at a press conference for the CRS-24 mission yesterday. The proportion of ‘flight-proven’ rockets utilized by SpaceX in 2020 was 19 percent, while this year the figure was only 6 percent. There were 93% recycled boosters in Hawthorne, California’s launch service provider’s 2021 schedule.
When it comes to building both the biggest satellite constellation and the world’s largest rocket at once, SpaceX will benefit from high rocket reuse. As many as 42,000 spacecraft might be sent into orbit by the company’s Starlink constellation, while its Starship launch vehicle system intends to further cut the costs of space access by recycling the whole rocket and transporting bigger payloads to the low Earth orbit (LEO), the Moon, and to Mars.
Proctor & Gamble’s (P&G) project to produce a detergent for astronauts and space tourists is one of the cargo Dragon’s payloads currently in orbit. Another tries to enhance jet engines and power plants by developing stronger turbine blades in microgravity.