After undocking from the International Space Station on June 29th, SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon capsule splashed down off of the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on June 30th at -10:30 am ET (14:30 UTC).
On June 4th, the CRS-28 mission lifted off from Launch Complex 39A atop Falcon 9 B1077 and spent 23 days docked to the International Space Station. This was the 8th mission under Phase 2 of the commercial resupply contract with NASA.
Separation confirmed.@SpaceX‘s uncrewed Dragon spacecraft undocked from the @Space_Station at 12:30pm ET. #CRS28 will now start its journey home, splashing down off the coast of Florida around 10:30am ET (1430 UTC) on Friday. Follow https://t.co/FRrjhINIvY for the latest. pic.twitter.com/L95XvRhKOX
— NASA (@NASA) June 29, 2023
During this resupply mission, the Cargo Dragon brought tons of supplies for the crew, experiments, and hardware for the station. This included a pair of IROSAs (International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays) that will provide increased power for the orbiting outpost. Following splashdown and recovery, time-sensitive experiments were picked up via helicopter and flown back to Kennedy Space Center.
The Cargo Dragon that completed this mission was C208, the first Dragon 2 cargo variant, which has now made 4 trips to ISS and has spent -132 days in space since debuting on the CRS-21 mission in December 2020.
A significant note of the Phase 2 contract awarded by NASA, it also included Northrop Grumman Cygnus and Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spaceplane. Cygnus has only 1 launch left on the Antares 230+ due to it using Russian-made engines and the U.S. Government requiring the engines to be U.S. made. As a result, Northrop Grumman contracted SpaceX to launch the next 3 Cynus vehicles while they have engines built for their Antares 330 rocket, these engines will be built by Firefly Aerospace.
Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chase, on the other hand, is due to debut on the 2nd flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is now indefinitely delayed while they reinforce the Centaur V upper stage following an anomaly earlier this year. This most likely pushes the flight well into 2024.
With these issues, that essentially makes SpaceX the only U.S. company sending supplies and astronauts to ISS and it’s clear a few other companies need to play catch up.
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