In Dec 2015 we were all amazed when SPACEX’s successfully achieved their first landing of Falcon 9’s First Stage on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral. At the time, landings on the ASDS barge at sea were never successful, although the landings did aim correctly onto the barge, but failed, either crashing onto the barge or tipping over. Until now.
This is the first time the Dragon flies on the Upgraded Falcon 9 v1.2 on a mission to resupply the ISS.
The CRS-8 mission successfully launched on April 8, 2016 at 4:43 pm EDT under a clear sky. It was one the smoothest launches. This was the Return to Flight mission, after their launch failure in 2015 during CRS-7.
As a milestone, the Falcon 9 First Stage successfully landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You” returning to the Atlantic Ocean from the edge of space and over five times the speed of sound, the booster came in on target and touched down on the drone ship, remaining upright, further cementing SPACEX’s place in space history with a successful rocket stage recovery at sea.
Read my previous post about the First successful Ground Landing here.
The Dragon is on its way to the ISS and will link with the station on Sunday to join the Cygnus OA-6 cargo craft already attached to ISS, making this the first time a Dragon and a Cygnus are berthed side by side.
Riding inside the Dragon’s trunk section is the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), set for a 2 year stay to demonstrate expandable habitat technology in the space environment to pave the way for future missions of large inflatable modules.
BEAM will be attached via the Canadarm 2 to Node 3 “Tranquility”.
At the time of this post there is no clear details of the flight hardware structure in the trunk that holds the BEAM. Although the above photo on the left shows a structure, this is not the actual flight hardware to be used during flight. After the release of a few pictures of the trunk’s interior, some details of the flight support interface were revealed, although not in total. Based on these few photos, I have come up with this beta model of the BEAM support interface.
The Dragon was captured by the Canadarm2 and berthed to the Harmony module on April 10, 2016 at 7:23 am EDT. The ISS configuration now has 6 vehicles.
For the first time in history, 2 U.S. Commercial cargo craft are berthed at the ISS. In total, 6 spacecrafts are in port at the space station, including 2 U.S. Commercial supply ships, 2 Soyuz crew crafts and 2 Progress freighters.
BEAM installation by Canadarm2 to Node 3 “Tranquility”
BEAM is now expanded in full size. Here is the model in 1:100 scale to match the ISS model.
Falcon 9 v1.2 CRS-8 rocket axmfalcon912dragoncrs8-1100
CRS-8 First Stage barge landing Updated
Dragon CRS-8 1:100 scale DragonCRS-8
BEAM trunk configuration 1:100 scale crs8payload
BEAM trunk Instruction Manual AXMBEAMtrunkconfigmanual – PDFOptim
BEAMexpandedfullsize BEAM 1:100 expanded Full size model
AXMBEAMexpandedInstrManual – PDFOptim Instruction Manual