SpaceX CRS-4

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SpaceX CRS-4
SpaceX CRS-4 Dragon.jpg
SpaceX CRS-4 Dragon approaching ISS on 23 September 2014
Mission type ISS resupply
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 2014-056A
SATCAT no. 40210
Mission duration Planned: 4 weeks[1]
Final: 34 days, 13 hours, 45 minutes
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Dragon
Manufacturer SpaceX
Start of mission
Launch date 21 September 2014, 05:52:03 (2014-09-21UTC05:52:03) UTC[1]
Rocket Falcon 9 v1.1
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-40[2][3]
Contractor SpaceX
End of mission
Disposal Recovered
Landing date 25 October 2014, 19:38 (2014-10-25UTC19:39) UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Inclination 51.6 degrees
Epoch Planned
Berthing at ISS
Berthing port Harmony nadir
RMS capture 23 September 2014, 10:52 UTC[1]
Berthing date 23 September 2014, 13:21 UTC
Unberthing date 25 October 2014, 12:02 UTC
RMS release 25 October 2014, 13:57 UTC
Time berthed 31 days, 22 hours, 41 minutes
Mass 2,216 kg (4,885 lb)[1]
Pressurised 1,627 kg (3,587 lb)
Unpressurised 589 kg (1,299 lb)

SpaceX CRS-4 Patch.png
NASA SpX-4 mission patch

SpaceX CRS-4, also known as SpX-4,[4] was a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, contracted to NASA, which was launched on 21 September 2014 and arrived at the space station on 23 September 2014. It was the sixth flight for SpaceX's uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft, and the fourth SpaceX operational mission contracted to NASA under a Commercial Resupply Services contract. The mission brought equipment and supplies to the space station, including the first 3D printer to be tested in space, a device to measure wind speed on Earth, and small satellites to be launched from the station. It also brought 20 mice for long-term research aboard the ISS.

Launch history[edit]

Liftoff of SpaceX CRS-4 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on 21 September 2014
Dragon capsule splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on 25 October 2014

After a scrub due to poor weather conditions on 20 September 2014, the launch occurred on Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 1:52 a.m. EDT (0552 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.[5]

Primary payload[edit]

NASA contracted for the CRS-4 mission and therefore determined the primary payload, date/time of launch, and target orbital parameters. The payload consisted of 4,885 pounds of cargo, including 1,380 pounds of crew supplies.[6] The cargo included the ISS-RapidScat, a Scatterometer designed to support weather forecasting by bouncing microwaves off the ocean’s surface to measure wind speed, which was launched as an external payload to be attached on the end of the station's Columbus laboratory.[7] CRS-4 also includes the Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS), which will provide still another means to release other small satellites from the ISS.[8] In addition, CRS-4 carried a new permanent life science research facility to the station: the Bone Densitometer (BD) payload, developed by Techshot, which provides a bone density scanning capability on ISS for utilization by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). The system measures bone mineral density (and lean and fat tissue) in mice using Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA).[9]

Secondary payloads[edit]

SpaceX has primary control over manifesting, scheduling and loading secondary payloads. However, there are certain restrictions included in their contract with NASA that preclude specified hazards on the secondary payloads, and also require contract-specified probabilities of success and safety margins for any SpaceX reboosts of the secondary satellites once the Falcon 9 second stage has achieved its initial low-Earth orbit (LEO).

The CRS-4 mission carried the 3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment to the ISS, as well as a small satellite as secondary payload that will be deployed from the ISS: SPINSAT.[10] It also brought 20 mice for long-term physiological research in space.[11]

3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment[edit]

The 3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment will demonstrate the use of 3D printing technology in space. 3D printing works by the process of extruding streams of heated material (plastic, metal, etc.) and building a three-dimensional structure layer-upon-layer. The 3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment will test the 3D printer specifically designed for microgravity, by Made In Space, Inc., of Mountain View, California. Made In Space’s customized 3D printer will be the first device to manufacture parts away from planet Earth. The 3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment will validate the capability of additive manufacturing in zero-gravity.[12] This experiment on the International Space Station is the first step towards establishing an on-demand machine shop in space, a critical enabling component for deep-space crewed missions and in-space manufacturing.[13]


SPINSAT is a 56-centimeter (22 in)-diameter sphere built by the US government Naval Research Lab (NRL) to study atmospheric density.

SPINSAT is a technology demonstrator for electric solid propellant (ESP) thrusters from Digital Solid State Propulsion (DSSP).[10] DSSP's technology utilizes electric propulsion to enable small satellites to make orbital maneuvers that have generally not been possible in the very small, mass-constrained satellites such as CubeSats and nanosats.[14] This will be DSSP's first flight and will be deployed from the Kibo module airlock. NASA safety experts approved the mission—which by its nature must start with the satellite inside the habitable volume of the ISS—because the satellite's 12 thruster-clusters burn an inert solid fuel, and then only when an electric charge is passed across it.[15]


The mission also brought 20 mice to live on the ISS for study of the long-term effects of microgravity on the rodents.[11]

First stage landing attempt[edit]

The Falcon 9 first stage for the CRS-4 mission re-entered the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of the United States. Its re-entry was captured on video by a NASA WB-57 aircraft as part of research into high-speed Mars atmospheric entry.[16]

In November 2015, a panel from this first stage was found floating off the Isles of Scilly in the southwest United Kingdom.[17][18] Although much of the media suggested the part came from the later CRS-7 launch which exploded, SpaceX confirmed it came from CRS-4.[19]

Dragon reuse[edit]

The structural core of the CRS-4 Dragon capsule was refurbished and reused in the SpaceX CRS-11 mission, the first Dragon capsule to be reused.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission". NASA. Retrieved 2014-09-21. 
  2. ^ "Worldwide Launch Schedule". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  3. ^ "SpaceX Launch Manifest". SpaceX. Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  4. ^ Suffredini, Mike (14 April 2014). "NAC: International Space Station Program Status" (PDF). p. 18. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  5. ^ "Worldwide launch schedule". Spaceflightnow. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-08. 
  6. ^ Poladian, Charles. "SpaceX Launch Delayed, Watch the Rescheduled ISS Cargo Resupply Mission Sunday", International Business Times, 20 September 2014
  7. ^ "Watching Earth’s Winds, On a Shoestring | NASA". 29 October 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  8. ^ "Meet Space Station’s Small Satellite Launcher Suite | NASA". 3 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "Dragon C2, CRS-1,... CRS-12". Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  11. ^ a b Bergin, Chris. "SpaceX’s CRS-4 Dragon completes Tuesday arrival at ISS", NASA, 22 September 2014
  12. ^ "Made In Space and NASA to Send First 3D Printer into Space". Made In Space. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  13. ^ "3D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration (3D Printing In Zero-G)". Made In Space. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  14. ^ Messier, Doug (6 April 2014). "Digital Solid State Propulsion is Headed to ISS". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  15. ^ "Spinsat". Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  16. ^ "Commercial Rocket Test Helps Prep for Journey to Mars". NASA. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  17. ^ Ferreira, Becky (November 27, 2015). "A SpaceX Rocket Washed Up in England After 14 Months at Sea". Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  18. ^ Brian, Matt (November 27, 2015). "Debris from SpaceX's Falcon 9 washes up in England". Engadget. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Scilly space rocket Falcon 9 did not explode". BBC News. December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015. 

External links[edit]