Science

SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft lands at Chicago museum ahead of exhibit

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, which splashed down twice, landed for the last time in Chicago.

The capsule, which made two unmanned flights to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station, has arrived at the Museum of Science and Industry. (will open in a new tab) (MSI) in Illinois on Thursday (December 1) for their permanent exhibition. The Dragon will join other historic spacecraft at the museum’s Henry Crown Space Center when it debuts to the public in the spring of 2023.

“On behalf of the MSI community, I want to express my deepest gratitude for this gift from SpaceX,” said Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry, on Thursday during the capsule delivery ceremony. “The SpaceX spacecraft will undoubtedly spark the curiosity and creativity of future engineers, manufacturers, scientists and those who will create sustainable solutions that will propel us forward.”

“I can’t wait for the permanent exhibition to open,” Humphrey said.

A semi-trailer pulls up to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois, carrying the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, which will be on display at the Henry Crown Space Center in the spring of 2023. (Image credit: MSI)

Dragon, joining MSI’s collection, which SpaceX has assigned serial number C113, is the 13th and final first-generation cargo capsule produced by the company. Sharing the same design as Dragon, which became the world’s first commercial spacecraft to orbit Earth and recover intact, C113 flew twice to the International Space Station.

On its first commercial resupply flight (CRS) for NASA in August 2017, C113 launched on the CRS-12 mission, carrying over 6,400 pounds (2,900 kg) of science equipment and supplies for the station’s Expedition 52 astronaut crew, including the spacecraft . – The Ray Energetics and Mass (CREAM) scientific instrument, which was installed outside the complex. The dragon returned to Earth after 31 days and six hours in space.

C113 climbed atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket again in May 2019 as part of the CRS-17 mission for NASA. (will open in a new tab). Dragon was launched with 5,500 pounds (2,500 kg) of cargo for the Space Station Expedition 59 crew, including Orbital Carbon Observatory 3 and STP-H6 (Space Test Program – Houston 6), the latest communication demonstration using modulated X-beams. The capsule splashed down after 27 days and 23 hours from the Earth.

In total, Dragon completed two missions in 64 days, 12 hours and 4 minutes.

The SpaceX C113 Dragon spacecraft launches the CRS-12 cargo mission in 2017 and is docked at the International Space Station as part of the CRS-17 cargo mission in 2019. (Image credit: SpaceX/NASA)

SpaceX retired the first-generation Dragon spacecraft in 2020, replacing it with a more advanced model capable of delivering both cargo and astronauts.

“This Dragon spacecraft in many ways represents an exciting future for MSI, for the South Side, for our city and, yes, for space exploration in general, as we look forward to more manned missions to the Moon and Mars,” said Sameer Mayekar, Deputy mayor of Chicago. “To have this handy for all of us Chicagoans and our visitors, it will inspire our next chapter in terms of being a ‘city of stories’.”

MSI is the third site to showcase the first generation Dragon capsule. The very first flying dragon (will open in a new tab), C101, hangs from the ceiling today at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The first dragon docked at the International Space Station, C102, is one of the removed exhibits in Gateway: The Deep Space Complex. (will open in a new tab) at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Henry Crown Space Center (will open in a new tab) pays homage to “the dreams and drama of space exploration … with spacecraft driven on missions, along with stories and interactive content that chronicles the missions that have taken us to space and previews those that will take us to Mars and beyond.” The museum houses Scott Carpenter’s Mercury capsule Aurora-7. (will open in a new tab) and the command module of Apollo 8, which carried the first humans into orbit around the moon.

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