SpaceX launches science, holiday gifts and supplies to the International Space Station on Thursday
Kennedy Space Center, Florida – On Thursday night, SpaceX aims to launch supplies, science and food for astronauts living on the International Space Station.
A Dragon spacecraft loaded with 6,500 pounds of cargo for the space station will lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 8:28 p.m. EDT. The spacecraft will dock at the ISS Harmony module on Saturday morning, where NASA astronauts Loral O’Hara and Yasmine Moghbeli will monitor the dragon’s arrival.
Here’s what to know about the upcoming launch from Florida.
The weather is clear to boot
Forecasters with the Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron say conditions around the Florida Spaceport are trending favorably for Thursday’s immediate launch window.
Some rain is possible Thursday evening but should stay far enough away from KSC to not be a concern, according to the forecast. Cumulus cloud cover is the only weather concern for takeoff at 8:28 p.m. Currently, there is a 95% chance of suitable weather for the launch.
If the launch is delayed to Friday, the chances drop to 90%, with cloud cover once again the main concern but still good for liftoff.
The nice, dry weather is due to a high pressure system over Florida this week, said Melodie Lovin, a launch forecaster.
“If you have the pleasure of being here on the Space Coast today and you go outside, you’ll notice very sunny skies and some low clouds out there. “But overall, the weather (Thursday) will be very similar to what we see today. This is all due to high pressure across the region,” Lofven said.
With temperatures dipping into the 70s on Thursday and Friday, it will be fun either evening to watch the launch in person along Florida’s Space Coast.
What will be released on CRS 29?
This marks SpaceX’s 29th orbital laboratory supply and 81st SpaceX rocket launch of the year.
With the upcoming holidays, astronauts will receive a special grocery delivery service with this launch, including pumpkin spice cappuccinos, chocolate, cranberry sauce, and turkey. Other groceries include pizza kits, fresh produce and specialty cheeses.
A replacement for an instrument bag lost during last week’s spacewalk will be among the hardware flying aboard CRS 29. According to ISS Deputy Program Manager Dana Weigel, the crew lock bag contains some tethers and instrument sockets.
At any given time, there are hundreds of research investigations underway in the laboratory, which orbits 250 miles above Earth. After the dragon arrives, a whole new batch of science will begin.
The Dragon will be packed with new science investigations for NASA, including the Atmospheric Wave Experiment (AWE), the study of gravitational waves and how they affect space weather.
“We are creating a new way to look at gravitational waves, which are tiny pockets of energy that start small at low altitudes and grow as they rise into the atmosphere,” said Megan Everett, deputy chief scientist at the International Space Station Program Research Office. The International Space Station is an excellent place to measure gravitational waves because they are larger in higher atmospheres.
“We hope that by measuring these atmospheric waves or gravitational waves, we can get a better idea of space weather that could affect climate change or how winds and space affect our satellites,” Everett said.
Biomedical research investigations are launched with this offering to develop treatments for various medical problems, including respiratory diseases, female reproductive health, liver cell regeneration, and cognitive decline.
A study by the US Naval Research Laboratory will look into using new types of melanin to apply as radiation protective coatings on spacecraft and spacesuits. According to the International Space Station National Laboratory, melanin is known for its ability to protect against harmful elements, including radiation and chemicals.
Dragon is scheduled to spend about a month on the space station before returning to Earth with his research, landing off the coast of Florida.
Later this month, NASA and its partners on the International Space Station will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of Zarya, the first module of the International Space Station.
“We look back over the past 25 years and see the growth of our space agency and how international partnerships have blossomed and the amount of research we have accomplished on the vehicle,” Weigel said. “To date, 273 people from 21 countries have visited the International Space Station, which is very impressive.”