SpaceX today completed an important milestone in preparation for its next demonstration flight for NASA.
At its Launch Complex 40 hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, crews mated a Dragon capsule to a "trunk" that holds solar arrays and thermal radiators and provides room for unpressurized cargo.
Solar arrays weren't flown on the Dragon's first trip to orbit last December, which lasted just a couple of laps around the planet before a successful re-entry.
The next flight, planned early next year, will be much longer and require more advanced flight systems, taking the unmanned Dragon close to the International Space Station and hopefully berthing at the outpost.
If successful, the flight would set the stage for operational cargo flights to the station under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.
IMAGE: SpaceX's Dragon capsule completed a significant processing milestone this afternoon when the capsule was mated with the trunk that will carry unpressurized cargo to the ISS. Credit: SpaceX