SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule will arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday morning (Nov. 27), and you can watch the rendezvous live.
The robotic Dragon is scheduled to dock with the orbiting lab Sunday around 7:30 a.m. EST (1230 GMT). Watch the action live here at Space.com courtesy of NASA TV or directly via the space agency (opens in new tab); coverage begins at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT).
Sunday’s meetup will end a brief orbital chase for Dragon; the SpaceX freighter launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 26) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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Dragon is packed with about 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of cargo. The manifest includes two more International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), gear designed to augment the orbiting lab’s existing solar wings.
The ISS will eventually feature six iROSAs, which together will boost the station’s power supply by 20% to 30%. Spacewalking astronauts have installed two of the new arrays to date.
Dragon will also deliver a wide variety of scientific experiments to the ISS on this trip. For example, one study bound for the station will grow dwarf cherry tomatoes in a bid to help ramp up off-Earth food production. Another investigation will continue previous microgravity research with 3D-cultured heart tissue (opens in new tab), testing potential therapies that could prevent or slow the development of cardiac disease.
Dragon’s current mission is called CRS-26, because it is the 26th robotic cargo flight that SpaceX is flying to the ISS for NASA. CRS-26 had been scheduled to lift off on Tuesday (Nov. 22) but was pushed back by bad weather.
Cargo Dragons usually stay docked to the ISS for about a month, but CRS-26 will remain aloft for 45 days or so, NASA officials have said. The extra time was allotted, in part, to allow for the spacewalks needed to install the iROSAs.
CRS-26 will end with a parachute-aided ocean splashdown. Dragon is the only currently operational cargo craft that comes back to Earth in one piece following its missions. The other two active freighters — Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle and Russia’s Progress craft — are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when their time in orbit is up.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).