SpaceX successfully launched the flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket for the historic launch of the Cargo Dragon 2 spacecraft.
Tomorrow’s weather at 11:39 AM ET (16:39 UTC), and the December 5th launch attempt is only 40% favorable but conditions are expected to clear during the backup window around 11:15 AM on Sunday, as You jump to 80% favorable. About three metric tons (about 6,600 lb) of cargo – including a large commercial airlock – is slated to be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA, and SpaceX’s CRS-21 mission will mark many of the early stages of NASA, the United States, and spaceflight In general.
As previously discussed on Teslarati, barring anomalies, SpaceX believes that the launch of the Crew-1 Dragon on November 15 marks the beginning of an ongoing presence in orbit for the company.
“Over the next fifteen months, we will be flying seven missions of cargo dragon and crew for NASA. This means that starting with Crew-1, there will be a continuous presence of SpaceX Dragons in orbit. Starting with the CRS-21 cargo mission, every time we launch In Dragon, there will be two Dragons in space – simultaneously – for long periods of time. Really, we are returning the US ability to provide full launch services and we are very proud to be a part of that. “
Additionally, the continued presence of the Dragon spacecraft in orbit also means that after all future Dragon launches, SpaceX will have two Dragons in orbit. In the history of spaceflight and the International Space Station, only Russia routinely had more than one spacecraft linked to a space station (Soyuz and Progress) in orbit at the same time. If successful, CRS-21 would catapult SpaceX into one of the most exclusive spaceflight clubs in the modern world.
Thanks to SpaceX, and for the first time ever, the United States will likely have two or more recoverable spacecraft stationed on the International Space Station at any given moment. Before Dragon 2, only Russia had regularly operated two recoverable spacecraft in orbit, for only a few days or weeks.
Regardless of the orbital firsts, the CRS-21 will also be the first time in history that a new spacecraft bound for a space station (Cargo Dragon 2) has appeared on a proven flying rocket (Falcon 9). The Falcon 9 booster supporting CRS-21 previously launched SpaceX’s Demo-2 Crew Dragon for the first time, as well as South Korea’s ANASIS II communications satellite and a group of 60 Starlink spacecraft.
For NASA, this will be the space agency’s first launch twice or The Falcon 9 booster that has been broadcasting three times, in addition to the first time that a SpaceX booster with a commercial (non-NASA) launch date has been certified to launch a NASA mission.