Published: Wed, April 04, 2018
Research | By Francis Brooks

SpaceX resupply mission with key research on way to International Space Station

SpaceX resupply mission with key research on way to International Space Station

A SpaceX Dragon launched at 4:30 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida delivering more than 5,800 pounds of equipment and research to the International Space Station. Instead, the company planned to fly the first stage on a trajectory "a little bit out more towards the limits" to demonstrate its performance, said Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX, during a pre-launch briefing April 1. But with possible showers in the forecast, a contingency plan has the mission launching on Tuesday, when there is less chance of rain.

"This is the second resupply mission for NASA where we're not only flying a flight-proven booster but we're also flying a Dragon that has already been to the International Space Station", Jensen said, per CBS News.

The mission, SpaceX's 14th under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services Contract, marks the second time the agency has flown on a combination of a previously flown booster and Dragon spacecraft. The mission's Falcon 9 first-stage rocket was previously used on the CRS-12 mission in August 2017.

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A SpaceX Falcon rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral.

As the spacecraft approaches the ISS, Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the spacecraft and tug it to the Harmony module, NASA officials said in a statement. It takes about 30 minutes for Dragon to reenter the Earth's atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. The first stage safely separated and fell back to the Earth. Included among the science-related cargo is an experiment created to study severe thunderstorms on Earth. It will carry supplies to NASA's International Space Station, located 250 miles above Earth. The experiment, called the Veggie Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (Veggie PONDS), will test a machine that gives nutrients to lettuce and mizuna greens for harvest and consumption in orbit.

SpaceX also launched a satellite capable of clearing up pieces of old spacecraft orbiting the Earth. Test your SpaceX know-how here.

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