Published: Tue, April 03, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

SpaceX Launching Supplies To International Space Station

SpaceX Launching Supplies To International Space Station

The rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and if anything interferes with the timing, SpaceX will reschedule the launch for 4:08 PM ET tomorrow.

This Falcon 9 first stage rocket previously launched the CRS-12 mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 14, 2017.

This is SpaceX's 52nd flight of a Falcon 9 - its 53rd counting the maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket in February and its 14th station resupply mission.

The launch marked the third time SpaceX launched a reused Dragon capsule, and the second NASA mission to use a previously-flown first stage.

Meanwhile, the uncrewed Dragon capsule will catch up with the space station for a rendezvous that's set for Wednesday.

A few minutes after takeoff, the first stage engines cut off, having carried Dragon out of the Earth's atmosphere.

The Dragon will remain at the ISS until May, when the Expedition 56 crew will ship it back to Earth. Expedition 55/56 crewmembers will therefore have about a month to unload and repack the Dragon before its scheduled departure.

Once installed, an Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor will be outside the space station to survey severe thunderstorms and monitor upper-atmosphere lightning.

According to the Kennedy Space Center, the payload also contains investigations on the effect of a low-gravity environment on the production of resilient materials from metal powders and the propagation of food while in space through the Veggie Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System.

Another piece of scientific equipment heading to the ISS will provide a new test bed for all kinds of research on subjects ranging from plants and fruit flies to protein crystals and cell cultures. When it does return, it'll be holding 3,900 pounds of cargo from ISS. In this case, B1039 would have been the best option if SpaceX had any desire to fly a booster more than twice before the introduction of the purpose-driven, next-generation Block 5 reusability upgrade - Block 4 was clearly not built to fly more than twice without an uneconomical amount of refurbishment.

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