SpaceX Wraps Up 6th Dragon Launch to the International Space Station

Key Points

  • 🚀 Successful Dragon Launch: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched Cargo Dragon successfully to the International Space Station.
  • 🛰️ 6th Dragon Flight: This marked the sixth Dragon flight of 2023, with three being Crewed launches and two resupply missions.
  • 🌌 Dragon’s Mission: The Cargo Dragon is on its way to the Space Station for resupply; it will later return with finished experiments and unneeded items.
  • 🌍 SpaceX’s Dominance: SpaceX remains the primary American launch provider for the ISS, with more Dragon flights scheduled till 2026.
  • 🚀 Busy Launch Schedule: SpaceX continues with a relentless launch schedule, with two more launches planned for the upcoming weekend.

The Falcon 9 successfully lifted off at 8:28 p.m. ET last night, sending Cargo Dragon on its way to the International Space Station.

This was the 6th and final Dragon flight of 2023, with 3 of those being Crewed launches and the other 2 resupply missions. This Cargo Dragon is now playing catch up to the Space Station and will begin its approach to the outpost at 3:45 a.m. ET.

Once docked to the Space Station, the crew will open the hatches and begin removing the supplies and experiments inside and over the course of the next month, filling it with finished experiments and other unnecessary items to be returned to Earth.

Falcon 9 Booster 1081 completed its 2nd flight and after separating from the 2nd stage created a beautiful “Falcon Nebula” in the sky as the Merlin 1D and Merlin Vacuum engine plumes interacted causing the gases to glow in the upper atmosphere. The first stage then made a successful landing back at LZ-1 sending sonic booms around the Space Coast.

This was the 9th mission in the current Phase 2 Commercial Resupply Services that was awarded to SpaceX and as of writing, there are 6 more Cargo Dragon flights scheduled between 2024 and 2026.

SpaceX is currently the only American launch provider with the ability to send supplies or Crew for that matter to the International Space Station. Northrop Grumman recently retired its Antares rocket and will be launching its next Cygnus resupply vehicle on the Falcon 9 next year. United Launch Alliance does not have any Atlas V rockets available as their manifest is already assigned ahead of its retirement and eventual switch to the new Vulcan rocket that will be launching the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser vehicle.

SpaceX has two more launches this weekend, one from California and one from Florida, quite a non-stop pace!

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