Spring ISS launches to proceed on schedule

Even as recent developments have caused NASA and ESA to shutter a number of activities for developmental rockets and space probes, work that supports the crewed International Space Station remains essential, and those operations remain a continued priority.

Next up is the April 9 Soyuz mission to the ISS, which will carry three crew up and down from the ISS. Then in May, apart from the celebrated launch of the new Crew Dragon capsule, Japan hopes to send up the Kounotori 9 cargo module on 21 May 2020 at 1130 UT, with a launch window open as late as 30 June 2020.

The launches are marking a period of renewal in crewed spaceflight. While the landmark flight of Crew Dragon has been hotly anticipated, Kounotori 9 is also a significant moment, the planned last flight of the original HII Transfer Vehicle (HTV), as JAXA moves to an updated HTV-X capsule and H3 rocket, both larger and capable of supporting both the ISS and the proposed Lunar Gateway space station.

The recent SpaceX CRS-20 was likewise the last flight of the original Dragon cargo capsule, as future missions will use the updated Cargo Dragon design, which is roughly similar to the new Crew Dragon, just with much less seating, life support, and thruster capacity.

Author: Fargo Orbit

The Fargo Orbit delivers science and aerospace news from a vantage point in the centre of North America.