Dragon Docks to Station Carrying Science and Supplies – Space Station | Space

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The station is viewed from the approaching SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew spacecraft is pictured docked at center top. Credit: NASA TV.

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 262 miles over central Brazil, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to station’s Harmony module at 5:07 a.m. EST, with NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara monitoring operations from the station.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 29th contracted commercial resupply mission for NASA at 8:28 p.m. EST, Nov. 9, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends about one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

Laser Communication from Space

NASA’s ILLUMA-T investigation tests technology to provide enhanced data communication capabilities on the space station. A terminal mounted on the station’s exterior uses laser or optical communications to send high-resolution information to the agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) system, which is in geosynchronous orbit around Earth. The system uses invisible infrared light and can send and receive information at higher data rates than traditional radio frequency systems. The ILLUMA-T demonstration also paves the way for placing laser communications terminals on spacecraft orbiting the Moon or Mars.

Watching Waves in the Atmosphere

NASA’s AWE (Atmospheric Wave Experiment) uses an infrared imaging instrument to measure the characteristics, distribution, and movement of atmospheric gravity waves. These waves roll through Earth’s atmosphere when air is disturbed much like waves created by dropping a stone into water. Researchers are looking at how AGWs contribute to space weather, which refers to the varying conditions within the Solar System, including solar wind…

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