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The lower section of Dragon, holding the solar panels, are ditched during descent.

So, is Dragon carrying cargo in that section during ascent?

enter image description here

Source of the image: Launch & Spacecraft Visit to Space Station - SpaceX

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Yes, that section is usually called trunk and it may contain unpressurized cargo - up to 14 m3 (compared to 10 m3 of pressurized payload) (source)

You can see it being loaded with BEAM BEAM being loaded to Dragon trunk for CRS-8

(Twitter post)

And here is what seems like a real photo of the open section from the ISS Inspection of Dragon aft by remote cameras

(nasaspaceflight.com article)

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  • $\begingroup$ So the obvious question that follows is.... how does it not fall out? Is simply tying things down enough to keep it in place after a violent rocket launch and stage separation? $\endgroup$ – David says Reinstate Monica Feb 10 '16 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ It is probably fastened really tightly, otherwise it could damage the top of the second stage after liftoff which would very probably lead to a RUD. If it was kept in place during the launch then it should not get loose just because it is in free fall in vacuum. $\endgroup$ – jkavalik Feb 10 '16 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidGrinberg I suppose thats what the metal protrusions are for on the BEAM. $\endgroup$ – jkavalik Feb 10 '16 at 14:21

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