On 21 December, NASA and SpaceX successfully launched the Dragon CRS-24 (Commercial Resupply Services-24) spacecraft at 1007 GMT using a Falcon 9 v1.2 Block 5 from the Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This marks the final launch of 2021 from Cape Canaveral and the 24th cargo resupply mission by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS) or NASA. It also marks the 31st and final launch of the year for SpaceX. A new record for the company having completed 26 launches last year.
Dragon CRS-24 carries 2,989 kg of supplies, scientific experiments and hardware for the Expedition 66 crew onboard the ISS. It also contains Christmas presents and festive treats for the astronauts. There are also five cubesat co-payloads, DAILA, GASPACS, GT-1 PATCOOL and TARGIT, Light 1 and an undisclosed 1U cubesat onboard.
This was the maiden flight for first stage booster B1069. Following stage separation, the first stage successfully landed on the drone barge “Just Read The Instructions” stationed 629 km down range in the Atlantic Ocean at 1015 GMT. This marked the 100th successful landing of a Falcon first stage since it first recovery of a booster in 2015. The last time a new booster was the B1067 first used on SpaceX’s CRS-22 launch in June 2021.
On 22 December at 0841 GMT, CRS-24 successfully docked autonomously to the IDA-3 Zenith docking port on the space-facing side of Harmony module, overseen by NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Raja Chari.
For the Dragon CRS-24 mission the Cargo Dragon 2 C209 capsule was used. This was its second trip to the ISS having first been used on the CRS-22 ISS resupply mission in June 2021.