KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – SpaceX is preparing to launch a Dragon spaceship from Florida this weekend making its last supply run to the International Space Station until next year.
The private company’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to liftoff Saturday at 11:39 a.m. from Kennedy Space Center, however, the SpaceX is closely monitoring the weather for launch. Space Force weather officers are predicting a 50% chance of good weather and conditions are risky for a rocket booster landing at sea. Cloud cover and rain are the primary concerns for liftoff.
This will be the first launch of SpaceX’s new and improved cargo Dragon spacecraft, not to be confused with the Crew Dragon spacecraft that has now launched two sets of humans to the ISS. Thanks to the Crew Dragon, there are currently seven astronauts on the ISS awaiting these supplies, four of whom launched last month from Kennedy Space Center.
The new cargo ship is designed to carry 50% more supplies and will be packed with more than 6,400 pounds of supplies including equipment, science materials and new experiments destined for the zero-gravity laboratory. It is the 21st time SpaceX will make a supply run for NASA.
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While the spacecraft won’t carry people, the Falcon 9 booster previously launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in May. It will mark the fourth launch for this flight-proven booster. SpaceX plans to land it again at sea on the droneship called Of Course I Still Love You.
The Falcon 9 booster supporting this mission previously launched @NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the @space_station, the ANASIS-II mission, and a Starlink mission pic.twitter.com/qNVIaBjCCa— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 3, 2020
The capsule and Falcon 9 were rolled out to launchpad 39A on Wednesday in preparation for launch.
After launch, Dragon will arrive at the ISS Sunday almost 24 hours after it departs Florida’s Space Coast. This will be the first automated docking of the Cargo Dragon. For all previous 20 deliveries by SpaceX, an astronaut would grab the spacecraft with the space station’s robotic Canadaarm.
When it happens, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will be monitoring for the spacecraft’s arrival to the Harmony module. The astronauts have been practicing emergency drills and procedures for the event.
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