SpaceX aims to launch its space station resupply mission today – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown to the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch SpaceX’s 26th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Follow us Twitter.

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After a launch attempt earlier in the week was canceled due to inclement weather, SpaceX will try again Saturday to send a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station with nearly four tons of supplies and experiments. Lift off on the Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center is set for 2:20 p.m. EDT (1920 GMT).

SpaceX canceled the first attempted launch of the resupply mission on Tuesday due to rain and cloud cover at the Florida spaceport. A Falcon 9 rocket remained on the launchpad at Kennedy awaiting its next launch opportunity on Saturday.

SpaceX was unable to launch the cargo mission around the Thanksgiving holiday, a busy travel period in the US, because the FAA wanted to make sure the airspace was clear for commercial air traffic.

There is a 70% chance of favorable weather for the launch attempt on Saturday. The main weather concerns are showers and cumulonimbus clouds.

Assuming the Dragon capsule lifts off on Saturday, it will join the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) on Sunday. Astronauts on the space station will open the hatches and begin unloading payload into the pressurized cabin of the Dragon spacecraft.

When it lifts off, the Falcon 9 rocket will head northeast of Kennedy, powered by nine Merlin engines that generate 1.7 million pounds of thrust. The missile will shut down its booster first stage about two-and-a-half minutes into the mission, allowing the crane to land on an unmanned ship about 186 miles (300 kilometers) in the Atlantic Ocean about seven-and-a-half minutes after liftoff.

The booster, which has tail number B1076, is making its first flight into space on the CRS-26 mission. The Dragon capsule, also new, will deploy from the Falcon 9’s upper stage about 12 minutes after liftoff to begin the journey to the International Space Station.

The SpaceX launch team, stationed inside a firing room at Kennedy Launch Control Center, will begin loading ultra-cold condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 craft at 215 feet (65 meters) in T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, Merlin’s Falcon 9 main engines will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as a “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and field safety systems will also be configured for launch.

Credit: SpaceX

After the new cargo capsule docks, astronauts on the space station will open hatches and disassemble supplies, experiments, and other equipment stored inside the Dragon spacecraft’s pressurized cabin. At the end of the mission, the reusable capsule will detach from the station and head for a parachute-assisted landing off the coast of Florida in early January with several tons of cargo.

Payloads aboard the Dragon capsule include two new ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays, or iROSA modules, to upgrade the space station’s power system. The station’s astronauts will venture outside the complex next week to help install and deploy the new spinning arrays, which will increase the power produced by the station’s original solar arrays. The current solar array wings were launched on space shuttle missions between 2000 and 2009.

The solar arrays are rolled onto reels like yoga mats during launch. The space station’s robotic arm will remove the pulleys from their mounting shafts inside the Dragon spacecraft’s aft cargo bay and move them to the attachment points on the left and right sides of the lab’s solar gears.

The solar panels that are rolled out to partially cover the existing arrays will be opened. These two pairs of iROSA modules follow the first two array launches in 2021. The last two solar arrays are scheduled to be launched on a SpaceX resupply mission next year.

Other cargo on the CRS-26 mission includes experiments to test growing dwarf tomatoes on the space station, a handheld microscope that helps astronauts collect medical images of their blood samples, and a technology demonstration to collect data on building flexible structures in space.

Read more details in our mission preview story.

Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1076.1)

Payload: Cargo Dragon (CRS-26)

Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Lunch date: November 26, 2022

launch time: 2:20:42 PM EST (1920:42 GMT)

weather forecast: 70% chance of fair weather; low risk of upper level winds; Reduced risk of conditions unfavorable to an enhanced recovery

Recovery from boost: A drone ship with the “Just Read Instructions” logo east of Jacksonville, Florida

AZIMUTH LAUNCH: the Northeast

target orbit: 118 miles by 130 miles (190 kilometers by 210 kilometers), pitch 51.6 degrees

Launch timeline:

  • T+00:00: take off
  • T+01:12: Max Air Pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:27: Main Engine Cut Off (MECO) First Stage
  • T+02:30: Phase separation
  • T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:42: First stage increased back burner ignition (three engines)
  • T+03:15: The first stage increases the posterior burn cut
  • T+05:45: first stage entry burner ignition (three engines)
  • T+05:59: First stage entry afterburner cut off
  • T+07:06: First stage combustion ignition (single engine)
  • T+07:33: First stage landing
  • T+08:37: Second stage engine cut off (SECO 1)
  • T+11:49: Cargo Dragon chapter

Mission stats:

  • The 187th launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
  • The 196th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
  • First launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1076
  • First flight of the C211 Dragon capsule
  • 160 Falcon 9 launch from Florida Space Coast
  • SpaceX launch #57 from Platform 39A
  • 151st launch overall from Platform 39A
  • Sixth launch of the upgraded Cargo Dragon
  • SpaceX’s 26th cargo mission to the International Space Station
  • Falcon 9 No. 53 launch in 2022
  • SpaceX launch #54 in 2022
  • The 52nd orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @employee.

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