SpaceX launched its final Falcon 9 rocket of the year on December 21, 2021, in order to resupply the International Space Station.
The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying a Dragon capsule. Shortly after liftoff, the capsule separated from the rocket’s second stage. It will continue its course and is expected to dock itself to the space station on December 22, 2021.
Falcon 9’s 31st and final launch of 2021 pic.twitter.com/Va0JITgwZx— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 21, 2021
Within the 3,000 kilograms (6,500 pounds) of scientific equipment and supplies, the Dragon Capsule also contains Christmas presents and fresh food for the ISS crew.
“I won’t get in front of Santa Claus and tell you what’s going to be sent up, but we are going have some gifts for the crew,” said Joel Montalbano, the ISS program manager at NASA.
The launch marked the 24th Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA. It is also the 31st launch of the year for Elon Musk’s SpaceX and the 100th recovery of one of its orbital-class Falcon boosters, six years to the day after the first successful landing of the reusable rocket.
2021 was a critical year for SpaceX, with the beginning of commercial service for the Crew Dragon capsule. On April 23, 2021, SpaceX launched a four-member crew spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS), marking the first human mission reusing rocket booster recycled from the previous spaceflights.
It also completed the world’s first all-civilian astronaut mission to orbit on September 15, 2021, once again using the Crew Dragon capsule.