Since SpaceX launched its first crewed mission into space — the first U.S.-based launch of astronauts since the space shuttle program was retired — the company has upgraded its Crew Dragon capsule to make room for cargo missions, according to a recent tweet.
It may seem trivial to the average observer, but with ongoing and cargo-intensive crewed missions compounded by the International Space Station (ISS) remaining docked with a Crew Dragon spacecraft for all of 2021 — SpaceX is fast becoming a legacy space service that will likely become a major historical basis for space exploration.
SpaceX's upgraded Dragon spacecraft signals new legacy
The upgraded Crew Dragon will carry SpaceX's 21st cargo resupply mission to the ISS. It will arrive at the ISS while two other Dragons are simultaneously docked with the space station.
Once this Dragon docks to the @space_station, there will be two Dragons docked simultaneously. Between crew and cargo missions, there will be at least one Dragon spacecraft attached to the @space_station for the entirety of 2021— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2020
If anyone doubted SpaceX's capacity to become the new workhorse of NASA, they are surely eating crow now — "between crew and cargo missions, there will be at least one Dragon spacecraft attached to the [ISS] for the entirety of 2021," read a tweet from the company.
It's important to consider this fact: not a single minute of 2021 will pass without a Crew Dragon spacecraft attached to the ISS. We're witnessing the beginning of SpaceX as a legacy space service that will likely become a historical basis for space exploration — especially commercial undertakings, which will likely become the backbone of human space travel.
NASA, SpaceX partnership sees mutual improvement
A NASA panel recently discussed SpaceX's contributions to NASA, extolling the company's partnership with the U.S. agency renown for taking humans to the moon and back during the Apollo missions.
"I think [...] NASA culture has been improved by working with [SpaceX] and I think SpaceX's culture has improved by working with NASA," said astronaut Vic Glover, explaining the reciprocal benefits NASA and SpaceX have seen in the last several years, according to a tweet from NASA.
SpaceX plans to launch the upgraded Crew Dragon spacecraft on Halloween (called Crew-1 on Oct. 31), and while several Falcon 9 launches are scheduled between then and now — knowing that we're living amid the beginning of a new legacy in space travel means everyone alive today is adjacent to history.