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An unmanned SpaceX Dragon freighter successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday, bring with it 7,700 pounds of cargo, including two new solar arrays for the station.

So far, so standard.

But what intrigued me is that it means there are now six spacecraft docked at the ISS, filling up all the ports.

Here’s a diagram of the situation.

So the spacecraft are:

  • Progress 81 and 82 are Russian Soyuz spacecraft converted to carry cargo to the ISS (and take rubbish away)
  • Soyuz MS-22 is a Russian crewed spacecraft that can carry three passengers. Although they’ve been hugely upgraded they’re still the same basic spacecraft that first flew in the late 1960’s, which is okay because they’re solid, safe and reliable.
  • Crew-5 Dragon is a SpaceX spacecraft that can carry up to seven passengers, but usually carries just four.
  • CRS-26 Cargo Dragon is the same basic spacecraft but, like the Progress vessels, carries cargo and trash. It was developed before Crew-Dragon, which is a smart way to develop such a vehicle.
  • Cygnus-18 is another cargo ship, this one developed by Northrop-Grumman.

In a couple of years the ISS will lose one of these ports for some time when an outfit called Axiom will launch a module that will attach to the ISS for testing before it casts off to become (hopefully) the first private space station. It’s a good way to leverage off the ISS and reduce the risk of trying to go independent right from the start. There are several private space station efforts underway to do much the same thing, which is good because current plans are to de-orbit the ISS in 2030, when it will be 32 years old.

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Written by Tom Hunter

December 2, 2022 at 3:36 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Tom, Thank you for the variety of interesting subjects.

    kevn

    December 3, 2022 at 6:17 am

    • My pleasure. I’ve been working for some time on a post about nuclear fusion – just to make reader’s eyes glaze over some more. 😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

      Tom Hunter

      December 3, 2022 at 8:35 am


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