Minimize ISS: SpaceX CRS-22

SpaceX CRS-22 Mission

Launch    Payloads    References

NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting 1:29 p.m. EDT, Thursday, June 3, 2021 to launch its 22nd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver new solar arrays to power future work aboard the orbiting laboratory, along with new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew. Live coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Wednesday, June 2. 1)

Dragon’s pressurized capsule will carry a variety of research, including an experiment that could help develop better pharmaceuticals and therapies for treating kidney disease on Earth, a study of cotton root systems that could identify varieties of plants that require less water and pesticides. The research also will include two model organism investigations: One will study bobtail squid to examine the effects of spaceflight on interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts. The other will examine tardigrades’ adaptation to conditions in low-Earth orbit, which could advance understanding of the stress factors affecting humans in space.

The mission will include technology demonstrations, including a portable ultrasound device. Additionally, astronauts will test the effectiveness of remotely operating robotic arms and space vehicles using virtual reality and haptics interfaces.

Dragon’s unpressurized trunk section will deliver the first two of six new roll-out solar arrays based on a design tested on the space station in 2017. A robotic arm will extract them and astronauts will install them during a series of spacewalks this summer.

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 Saturday, June 5. Dragon will autonomously dock to the space-facing port on the station’s Harmony module, with Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitoring operations.

The spacecraft is expected to spend more than a month attached to the space station before it splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean, returning with research and return cargo.

Launch: The SpaceX CRS-22 (Commercial Resupply Services) mission was launched on 03 June 2021 at 17:29 UTC (1:29 EDT) on a Falcon 9 Block 5 vehicle from LC39A at KSC in Florida. - The Dragon separated from the rocket’s upper stage 12 minutes after liftoff. 2)

Orbit: Near circular orbit, altitude of ~ 400 km, inclination = 51.6º, period of~92 minutes.


Figure 1: he SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo capsule lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3, 2021, on the company’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission for the agency to the International Space Station(photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett) 3)

This launch was the first flight of a new booster, which made a successful droneship landing in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the first SpaceX launch to use a new booster since November 2020. “We’re actually surprised when we get to a mission like today’s where we’re flying a new booster,” said Sarah Walker, director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX, at the preflight briefing.

The Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the space station and autonomously dock to the space-facing port of the Harmony module on the International Space Station at approximately 5 a.m June 5. Coverage of the rendezvous and docking will begin at 3:30 a.m. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will monitor the arrival of the spacecraft, which will stay aboard the orbiting laboratory for about a month before splashing down and returning critical science and hardware to teams on Earth.

The largest item the Dragon is transporting to the station is a pair of new solar arrays called the ISS Roll-out Solar Array (iROSA), developed by Redwire for ISS prime contractor Boeing. The arrays are stored in the Dragon’s trunk rolled up, and will be attached to the station’s truss and rolled out. Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet are currently scheduled to conduct spacewalks on June 16 and 20 to install those arrays.

The arrays are the first two of six that will be installed on the station, overlaying part of the existing arrays. The higher efficiency of the new arrays means that, even by shadowing the existing arrays, they will still generate more power for the station.

The new solar arrays bring us back to a power generation that was the same as we had when we launched the older solar arrays,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA ISS program manager, during a June 2 briefing. “It allows us to continue the science and research programs we have on board.” He said that the new arrays will also provide enough power to support a commercial module being developed by Axiom Space that will be added to the station as soon as 2024.


Figure 2: A SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft after separation from the upper stage of its Falcon 9 rocket June 3. Visible in the trunk section of the Dragon are two solar arrays, in their rolled-up configuration, that will be installed on the space station (image credit: NASA TV)

Payloads of the SpaceX CRS-22 Mission

SpaceX’s 22nd contracted cargo resupply mission(CRS)to the International Space Station for NASA will deliver more than7,300pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. 4) 5)

Research Highlights

Hundreds of experiments are being conducted on the International Space Station in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. This research helps us better understand how to prepare for future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars, supports a growing space economy, and leads to developments that improve life on Earth. The SpaceX cargo spacecraft will deliver dozens of investigations to the International Space Station, including:

• Research that could help develop cotton varieties that require less water and pesticides

• An experiment looking at tardigrade survival in space, which could advance understanding of the stress factors affecting humans in microgravity

• A portable ultrasound device

• A new way of providing tactile and visual feedback to astronauts during robotic operations

• A look at interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts

These and other cutting-edge investigations join the hundreds of ongoing experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Figure 3: Science launching on SpaceX 22nd Cargo Resupply mission to the ISS (video credit: NASA)


Figure 4: Cargo of the SpaceX CRS-22 mission (image credit: NASA)

Launch of Hardware

ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (IROSA) – Solar arrays launching for installation during the summer 2021 spacewalks to upgrade power capabilities on-orbit

Catalytic Reactor - Legacy unit launching to provide critical sparing support for the water production capability for the environmental control and life support system (ECLSS)

Commercial Crew Vehicle Emergency Breathing Air Assembly (CEBAA) Regulator Manifold Assembly (RMA) - Completing the first setup for emergency air supply capability, this integrated system supports as many as five crew members for up to one hour during an ISS emergency ammonia leak

Zarya control module Kurs electronics unit - Critical hardware for cosmonaut remote-control docking of Russian spacecraft is launching to support planned maintenance activity during 2021

Portable Water Dispense (PWD) Filter - Major filter assembly used to remove iodine from water consumed by the crew during nominal operations

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Air Tanks - Critical disposable air tanks to support gas resupply for routine cabin repress activities on-orbit

Iceberg - Critical cold stowage capability to support expanded payload operations

Return of Hardware

Catalytic Reactor Developmental Test Objective (DTO) - Developmental environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) unit returning for testing, teardown, and evaluation (TT&E) to determine the cause of failure and subsequent re-flight

Urine Processing Assembly (UPA) Distillation Assembly - Critical ECLSS orbital replacement unit used for urine distillation, processing, and future use returning for TT&E and refurbishment to support future spares demand

Sabatier Main Controller - Major Sabatier system hardware used in conjunction with the Oxygen Generation System (OGS) for water production needs on-orbit

Rodent Research Habitats (AEM-X) - Habitats used during Rodent Research missions returning for refurbishment to support future missions in early 2022

Nitrogen/Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) Recharge Tank Assembly (RTA) - Empty gas tanks returning for reuse to support high-pressure gas operations and activities on-orbit

Passenger CubeSat payloads (ELaNa-36) on the SpaceX CRS-22 mission

• Alpha, a 1U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (deployment of a 1 x 1 m light sail with four tiny “chipsats” called Sprites attached)

• ARKSAT-1, a 1U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of the University of Arkansas, Fayettville, Arkansas (to demonstrate LEO-to-Earth atmospheric composition measurements using an on-board xenon flash bulb as the calibrated source for ground tracking)

• BeaverCube, a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Cambridge, MA

• CaNOP (Canopy Near-IR Observing Project), a 3U CubeSat of Carthage University, Kenosha, Wisconsin. The CaNOP science mission is to obtain medium-resolution images of global forest canopies with spectral resolution of 10 nm across the visible and near-infra-red.

• CAPSat (Cooling, Annealing, Pointing Satellite), a 3U CubeSat a technology demonstration mission of University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Objective: CubeSat navigation and control.

• EagleSat-2, a 3U CubeSat mission of Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida. Objective: scientific investigation focused on detecting cosmic ray particles and studying the effects of solar radiation on various types of random access memory in a memory degradation experiment.

• PR_CuNaR2 (Puerto Rico CubeSat NanoRocks-2), a 3U CubeSat scientific investigation of the International American University of Puerto Rico - Bayamón Campus, Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The objective is to increase understanding of the outcomes of relevant collisions among millimeter-sized particles, or “pebbles”, in a protoplanetary disk.

• RamSat, a 2U CubeSat education mission of Oak Ridge Public Schools (Robertsville Middle School), Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

• Stratus, a 3U CubeSat science investigation mission of Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan. The objective is of measuring cloud fraction, cloud top height, and cloud top wind with performance comparable to the best data obtained from NASA’s flagship Earth-observing spacecraft.

• SPACE HAUC (Science Program Around Communications Engineering with High Achieving Undergraduate Cadres ) , a 3U CubeSat (4 kg) of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts. SPACE HAUC is an undergraduate student CubeSat project with the primary goal of providing multi-disciplinary undergraduate students with hands-on training in designing and building space-flight missions. SPACE HAUC's secondary mission is a technical demonstration of a high data -rate (up to 100 Mbit/s) X-band phased array system with adaptive beam steering capabilities.

• SOAR (Satellite for Orbital Aerodynamics Research), a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of Manchester University, UK. The objective is to investigate the interaction between different materials and the atmospheric flow regime in very low Earth orbits (VLEO). Improving knowledge of the gas–surface interactions at these altitudes and identification of novel materials that can minimize drag or improve aerodynamic control are important for the design of future spacecraft that can operate in lower altitude orbits.

1) Kathryn Hambleton, Stephanie Schierholz, Megan Cruz, Leah Cashier, ”NASA Sets Coverage, Invites Public to Virtually Join Next Cargo Launch,” NASA Press Release M21-067, 26 May 2021, URL:

2) Jeff Foust, ”Falcon 9 launches cargo Dragon mission to ISS,” SpaceNews, 03 June 2021, URL:

3) Danielle Sempsrott, ”SpaceX’s 22nd Cargo Resupply Mission Underway as Dragon Journeys to Station,” NASA, SpaceX, 3 June 2021, URL:

4) Brian Dunbar, ”SpaceX CRS-22Mission Overview,” NASA, 28 May 2021, URL:

5) Melissa Gaskill, ”SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Mission to Space Station Launches Water Bears, Squid, Solar Panels,” NASA Space Station Research, 20 May 2021, URL:

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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