NASA is set to sent the next SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, September 20. The mission will take off at 2:16 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This delivery mission will have some game-changing technology that will mark the beginning of the ISS’ next era of Earth exploration.
NASA may push back the launch to Sunday
It will be SpaceX’s fourth mission to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The Elon Musk-led company has won the contract for 12 flights. The space agency said in a statement that, if needed, the launch could be pushed back to Sunday, September 21 at 1:53 a.m. EDT. The one-day adjustment will help accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The Falcon 9 rocket will be carrying the Dragon cargo spacecraft loaded with well over 5,000 pounds of scientific supplies and equipment. That includes the ISS-Rapid Scatterometer (ISS-RapidScat). It will monitor ocean winds for weather predictions, climate research, and hurricane monitoring. NASA plans to mount the International Space Station with six Earth science instruments by the end of this decade. The ISS-RapidScat was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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The mission will carry materials for 255 research projects
The supplies and experiments include materials that will support about 255 scientific investigations that will be conducted during the Expeditions 41 and 42 by the space station. Scientists will study a small flowering plant related to cabbage to monitor plant growth and adaptations in space. The spacecraft also has a new biomedical hardware to study rodents in microgravity.
NASA TV will start live coverage of the launch at 1:15 a.m. Saturday, September 20. New technology aboard the Dragon spacecraft include SpinStat (Special Purpose Inexpensive Satellite). It will test how a small satellite moves in space with the help of the 3D printing in zero-G technology demonstration and a new thruster technology.
The space- agency will host pre-launch conferences on September 18 and 19 at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida.