NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting 11:39 a.m. EST Saturday, Dec. 5, for the launch of its 21st commercial resupply services (CRS-21) mission to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
CRS-21 will deliver science investigations, supplies, and equipment for NASA and is the first mission under the company’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5.
The upgraded Dragon spacecraft will be filled with supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 64 and 65. In addition to bringing research to the station, the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk will transport the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock.
The first commercially funded space station airlock, the Bishop Airlock is an airtight segment used for transfer of payloads between the inside and outside of the station. It provides payload hosting, robotics testing, and satellite deployment while also serving as an outside toolbox for astronauts conducting spacewalks.
About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. Arrival to the space station is planned for Sunday, Dec. 6. Dragon will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module with Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover of NASA monitoring operations.
The Dragon spacecraft will spend about one month attached to the space station before it returns to Earth with research and return cargo, with splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Friday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. – One-on-one media opportunities with principal investigators for payloads on CRS-21 at the Kennedy Press Site (compliant with COVID-19 safety protocols).
TBD – Prelaunch news conference from Kennedy with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program, SpaceX, and the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom at [email protected] no later than 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.
Saturday, Dec. 5
11:15 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 11:39 a.m. launch.
Sunday, Dec. 6
9:30 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins for Dragon docking to space station
11:30 a.m. – Docking
The deadline for media to apply for accreditation for this launch has passed, but general information about media accreditation is available by emailing [email protected]
Members of the public can attend the launch virtually, receiving mission updates and opportunities normally reserved for on-site guests. NASA’s virtual launch experience for CRS-21 includes curated launch resources, a behind-the-scenes look at the mission, notifications about NASA social interactions, and the opportunity for a virtual launch passport stamp following a successful launch.