A SpaceX rocket will launch today to once again deliver cargo to the International Space Station for NASA.
Although this isn’t the first time that SpaceX will be visiting the ISS to replenish supplies for our space agency, they will be utilizing used hardware this time. A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket that previously visited the ISS back in June will once again visit the station with supplies and science experiments for the NASA crew.
In a field where space equipment is costly and largely a one-time use situation, it’s exciting to know that this SpaceX equipment is reliable and sturdy enough to be reused multiple times. Earlier this year, SpaceX started re-flying used rockets this year after several years of successfully landing their equipment after a launch. Only a few commercial customers have felt comfortable enough with the company to place their satellites on a used spacecraft, but it seems as if NASA trusts in the SpaceX rocket enough to trust it with important cargo. The endorsement of a major space agency is a major boon for the company and may lead to an increase in business for the private space exploration company. NASA has stated that the choice to use a used rocket for resupply missions in the future will be made on a case-by-case basis.
This launch is also a big deal for SpaceX because it marks the first time that the company’s launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be in use since a SpaceX rocket explosion last September. With around $50 million spent in order to fix the platform and upgrade it further, this will be the first launch since the unfortunate accident. After the SLC-40 pad was put out of commission last year, a site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center had to be used instead, but the pad needed some major modifications to accommodate a larger rocket. Trying to juggle upgrades to a smaller pad with repairs of a recently exploded launch site made it difficult for the company to manage its resources.
Moving forward, all of the launches for the Falcon 9 are planned to take place from the newly repaired SLC-40 pad. The Falcon Heavy flights, on the other hand, will launch from the Kennedy Space Center pad that had been upgraded to accommodate the bigger SpaceX rocket. Elon Musk had previously stated that the first launch of the Falcon Heavy SpaceX rocket would occur in November of this year, but it’s looking as if that launch will be pushed back to sometime in January. This morning’s Falcon 9 flight will carry 4800 pounds of cargo to the ISS. This is one of the last flights of this year for the rapidly growing space company.
SpaceX Take Off
Take off is scheduled for 10:36 ET, and if that window is missed, the launch will have to be delayed. Originally scheduled for December 12th, the launch had to be pushed back to today. SpaceX stated that they needed more time to take a look at particles that were found in the rocket’s fuel system. It’s clear that the company is taking a “better safe than sorry” approach, which is especially important after the explosion that ended up costing SpaceX some serious cash to repair. Despite the delays, it’s looking as if the weather is good for a launch today. Provided there are no last-minute issues, it’s looking very likely that the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket will make its way to the International Space Station with some much-needed supplies.
The cargo, in addition to basic supplies needed by astronauts present on the ISS, will carry several scientific experiments that have major implications for space research. The main focus of these experiments is to uncover new knowledge that may allow humanity to venture further out into our universe in manned missions, with research varying from the effects of zero-gravity on human tissue to the development of hardy plants suited for growth in outer space.
It’s important that the SpaceX rocket be able to resupply the ISS, but perhaps more exciting is the fact that reused spacecraft are being used in major missions. With it becoming easier to recover equipment in safe launches, it may soon be much more economical to visit outer space.