SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft prepared for launch tonight – Spaceflight Now


Reside protection of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Advanced 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch SpaceX’s twenty seventh resupply mission to the Worldwide Area Station. Observe us on Twitter.

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A SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft filled with practically 6,300 kilos of contemporary meals, {hardware}, and experiments for the Worldwide Area Station is counting right down to liftoff Tuesday night time from NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart in Florida.

Liftoff of the Dragon spacecraft atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is ready for 8:30:41 p.m. EDT Tuesday (0030:41 GMT Wednesday) to kick off a day-and-a-half pursuit of the house station. There may be an 80% probability of favorable climate for liftoff Tuesday night time from pad 39A at Kennedy Area Heart, with a slight probability of thick clouds that would violate a climate rule for launch.

The resupply flight can be SpaceX’s twenty seventh cargo ship mission to the Worldwide Area Station, a collection of logistics launches that started in 2012 below a multibillion-dollar Industrial Resupply Providers contract with NASA.

The subsequent mission, often called CRS-27, continues a busy schedule for the seven-person crew on the house station, and their floor assist groups on Earth. Earlier this month, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched to the house station with a contemporary set of 4 crew members for a six-month expedition, changing 4 station residents who returned to Earth on a separate Crew Dragon capsule Saturday night time.

Within the subsequent few months, NASA and its business companions plan to ship two short-duration crew missions to the station — the primary astronaut mission on Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule, and a completely personal mission with two People and two Saudi Arabian house fliers on a SpaceX Crew Dragon. Every mission will keep on the outpost for per week to 10 days.

An unpiloted Northrop Grumman Cygnus provide ship is ready for launch to the house station from Virginia later this spring, and Russia’s house company plans to return a broken Soyuz spacecraft from the advanced to Earth on March 28. The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft will land and not using a crew on-board after it leaked out all of its coolant fluid in December, an incident nonetheless below investigation by Russian engineers.

Final month, Russia launched a substitute Soyuz to offer a journey house later this yr for the three-man crew initially anticipated to return to Earth on Soyuz MS-22.

The comings and goings are occurring because the seven-person crew on the house station continues a busy slate of analysis experiments and upkeep duties on the house station. The Expedition 68 crew presently aboard the station is led by Russian commander Sergey Prokopyev, who’s joined by with Russian cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Andrey Fedyaev, U.S. astronauts Frank Rubio, Steve Bowen, Woody Hoburg, and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi.

SpaceX rolled the Falcon 9 rocket and Cargo Dragon capsule to the launch pad over the weekend, then raised it vertical for floor crews to complete loading time-sensitive cargo into the spacecraft Monday.

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft on high of a Falcon 9 rocket, awaiting liftoff Tuesday from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart. Credit score: SpaceX

Stationed inside a firing room at a launch management middle at Kennedy, SpaceX’s launch staff will start loading super-chilled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the 215-foot-tall (65-meter) Falcon 9 rocket at T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium pressurant may even stream into the rocket within the final half-hour of the countdown. Within the ultimate seven minutes earlier than liftoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin predominant engines can be thermally conditioned for flight via a process often called “chilldown.” The Falcon 9’s steerage and vary security methods may even be configured for launch.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will head northeast from Kennedy Area Heart to line up with the orbital aircraft of the house station, climbing into the stratosphere with 1.7 million kilos of thrust from 9 Merlin 1D predominant engines.

The rocket will shut down its first stage booster about two-and-a-half minutes into the mission, permitting the booster to descend to touchdown on a drone ship about 186 miles (300 kilometers) downrange within the Atlantic Ocean about seven-and-a-half minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 booster, tail quantity B1073, will full its seventh flight to house on the CRS-27 mission. The Dragon capsule, flying for the third time, will deploy from the Falcon 9’s higher stage practically 12 minutes after liftoff to start the journey to the Worldwide Area Station.

Assuming an on-time launch Tuesday, the Dragon spacecraft is ready to dock with the house station at 7:52 a.m. EDT (1152 GMT) Thursday to start out a month-long keep on the orbiting analysis advanced.

Astronauts on the house station will open hatches and start unpacking cargo contained in the pressurized compartment of the Dragon spacecraft, whereas the house station’s Canadian-built robotic arm will attain into the unpressurized trunk of the spacecraft to extract a half-ton package deal of science and tech demo experiments sponsored by the U.S. army’s Area Check Program.

The unpiloted cargo freighter is filled with 6,288 kilos (2,852 kilograms) of provides and experiments, in accordance with NASA. Practically half the payload mass consists of analysis investigations, with crew provides and {hardware} for house station methods additionally aboard the Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX’s patch for the CRS-27 resupply mission to the Worldwide Area Station. Credit score: SpaceX

The seven-person crew aboard the outpost will obtain a cargo of contemporary meals, together with apples, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, and cheeses, in accordance with Phil Dempsey, NASA’s transportation integration supervisor for the Worldwide Area Station program.

Meghan Everett, NASA’s deputy chief scientist for the house station program, stated the CRS-27 mission will launch tools to assist roughly 60 new scientific investigations and know-how demonstration experiments. Many of the analysis payloads are packed contained in the Dragon spacecraft’s pressurized cabin.

“With these investigations, we stay up for impactful scientific outcomes to advance human exploration in house and applied sciences right here on Earth,” Everett stated.

The interior experiments embody a pair of investigations from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being and the ISS Nationwide Lab analyzing whether or not clinically authorized medicine and new therapies can counteract modifications in coronary heart cells and tissues induced by the microgravity setting of spaceflight.

College students from Houston space excessive faculties are additionally sending to the house station monopod digital camera mounts they assembled as a part of a NASA-sponsored instructional initiative. The 5 monopods have actual functions for the crew on-board the house station, who’ve reported issue in positioning cameras floating in the midst of modules for pictures contained in the advanced.

An experiment from NASA’s Ames Analysis Heart launching aboard the CRS-27 mission will look into new know-how that would allow higher methods to clean carbon dioxide from the air contained in the house station. The experiment will research a approach to management liquids utilizing capillary forces, a stepping stone that would support within the growth of extra environment friendly liquid-based carbon dioxide removing methods to be used in microgravity, just like know-how utilized in submarines.

The European Area Company’s Biofilms experiment will permit scientists to judge the formation of bacterial biofilms in house. Biofilms are mixtures of microorganisms that create cleaning-resistant slimy materials that may injury tools and probably trigger infections. European scientists are trying into various kinds of antimicrobial surfaces that would inhibit biofilm progress.

“These outcomes will immediately inform choosing supplies with antimicrobial qualities for future spacecraft,” Everett stated.

A Japanese experiment additionally aboard the CRS-27 mission will expose micro organism and moss spores to the cruel setting of house utilizing a bracket connected outdoors of the house station.

“The purpose of this investigation is to take a look at the origin, transportation, and survival of life in house,” Everett stated.

The army’s STP-H9 payload is mounted contained in the aft trunk of the Dragon spacecraft. After docking with the house station, the lab’s Canadian-built robotic arm will attain into the trunk to grapple the STP-H9 package deal, then mount it on a port outdoors the Japanese Kibo laboratory module for no less than one yr of operations.

The STP-H9 payload is the seventh army Area Check Program package deal to be connected outdoors the Worldwide Area Station for experiments, following two comparable STP experiment platforms that flew on house shuttles. NASA disposes of the STP payloads when their missions are full, returning them into the environment to expend contained in the Dragon spacecraft’s expendable trunk part, whereas the reusable cargo capsule parachutes to a gentle splashdown at sea.

The experiments on the STP-H9 payload embody an in-space laser energy beaming demonstration developed by the Naval Analysis Laboratory.

An artist’s idea of laser energy beaming from house. Credit score: JAXA

The Area Wi-fi Vitality Laser Hyperlink, or SWELL, experiment will try to determine an optical energy beaming hyperlink between laser transmitters and receivers packaged inside a 5.7-foot-long (1.7-meter) tube. The experiment is an development in laser energy beaming know-how, which transmits power within the type of electromagnetic waves, with out the transport of mass.

Transmitting electrical power utilizing electromagnetic waves means energy may very well be despatched from place to position on the pace of sunshine. The NRL says the feasibility and security of laser energy beaming has been confirmed on the bottom.

Experiments in house may result in functions involving the transmission of electrical energy from satellite tv for pc to house, beaming power from space-based energy turbines again to Earth to be used on the bottom, or supporting missions exploring completely shadowed craters on the moon. In the end, energy beaming may very well be used to propel spacecraft at report speeds to discover interstellar house.

However to date, no energy beaming demonstration in orbit has examined the power to transmit power over a variety of greater than a meter, with larger than 1% end-to-end effectivity. The SWELL experiment goals to try this, and can gather knowledge on how the {hardware} performs within the house setting.

“With this modest experiment, we are going to establish key focus areas for creating hyperlinks of larger energy and longer distance for house,” stated Paul Jaffe, electronics engineer and SWELL principal investigator, in an announcement. “By using laser transmitters and photovoltaic receivers, energy beaming hyperlinks can be established that can pave the way in which for fast, resilient, and versatile power supply methods.”

The U.S. army examined a microwave-based energy beaming know-how on a secretive mission aboard the Air Drive’s X-37B spaceplane that was in orbit from 2020 till final yr. The laser experiment on the STP-H9 payload package deal will probe a unique method of beaming energy from house to the bottom.

“That is the subsequent step in extending this functionality for house, lunar, and planetary functions,” stated Chris DePuma, SWELL program supervisor on the Naval Analysis Laboratory. “Energy beaming is poised as a important enabler for energy distribution on the moon and elsewhere in house.”

“Energy beaming may also be used for distributing energy for and round Earth, together with from satellites that gather photo voltaic power in house,” Jaffe stated. “SWELL is the subsequent step into this new frontier.”

The Area Check Program – Houston 9, or STP-H9, payload package deal inside NASA’s Area Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Area Heart. Credit score: DoD Area Check Program

Different experiments on the army’s STP-H9 payload embody an Electrical Propulsion Electrostatic Analyzer from the Air Drive Academy, and a Neutron Radiation Detection Instrument and Variable Voltage Ion Safety Experiment from NRL.

One other NRL experiment on the STP-H9 platform is the Experiment for Characterizing the Decrease Ionosphere and Manufacturing of Sporadic-E, or ECLIPSE, will measure circumstances within the ionosphere, a layer of the higher environment the place photo voltaic radiation can disrupt radio communications.

The Glowbug instrument on the STP-H9 payload, additionally managed by NRL with assist from NASA, is a miniature gamma-ray telescope designed to detect cosmic rays emitted from super-energetic explosions within the distant universe, known as gamma-ray bursts. Glowbug may even try and detect mysterious emissions of gamma-rays from thunderstorms on Earth.

A tech demo investigation known as the SpaceCube Edge Node Clever Collaboration from NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Heart — in collaboration with the Air Drive Analysis Laboratory and Aerospace Corp. — will consider synthetic intelligence and machine studying know-how utilizing AI microchips.

And an experiment from Lawrence Livermore Nationwide Laboratory, known as the Stellar Occultation Hypertemporal Imaging Payload, will take a look at a high-resolution, high-frame-rate digital camera that may very well be used on future house missions to measure atmospheric temperature profiles by observing how the air bends, or refracts, gentle from a star passing via the environment.

On the finish of the CRS-27 mission, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will return to Earth for splashdown off the coast of Florida in mid-April, bringing house quite a few analysis specimens, tools requiring refurbishment, and {hardware} now not wanted on the house station.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1073.7)

PAYLOAD: Cargo Dragon (CRS-27)

LAUNCH SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Area Heart, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: March 14, 2023

LAUNCH TIME: 8:30:41 p.m. EDT (0030:41 GMT on March 15)

WEATHER FORECAST: 80% probability of acceptable climate; Reasonable threat of higher stage winds; Low threat of unfavorable circumstances for booster restoration

BOOSTER RECOVERY: “Simply Learn the Directions” drone ship east of Jacksonville, Florida


TARGET ORBIT: 118 miles by 130 miles (190 kilometers by 210 kilometers), 51.6 levels inclination


  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Most aerodynamic strain (Max-Q)
  • T+02:24: First stage predominant engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+02:28: Stage separation
  • T+02:35: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:38: First stage enhance again burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+03:12: First stage enhance again burn cutoff
  • T+05:44: First stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:01: First stage entry burn cutoff
  • T+07:07: First stage touchdown burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+07:36: First stage touchdown
  • T+08:38: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 1)
  • T+11:34: Cargo Dragon separation
  • T+12:22: Nostril cone open sequence begins


  • 210th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 220th launch of Falcon rocket household since 2006
  • seventh launch of Falcon 9 booster B1073
  • third flight of Dragon capsule C209
  • a hundred and eightieth Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Area Coast
  • sixty fourth SpaceX launch from pad 39A
  • 157th launch total from pad 39A
  • seventh launch of an upgraded Cargo Dragon automobile
  • twenty seventh SpaceX cargo mission to the Worldwide Area Station
  • sixteenth Falcon 9 launch of 2023
  • seventeenth launch by SpaceX in 2023
  • thirteenth orbital launch try based mostly out of Cape Canaveral in 2023

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Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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