A brand-new SpaceX booster, an rarity for the reusable rocket organization, is ready to launch a fresh cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA on Thursday (June 3).
The Falcon 9 rocket is cleared to launch the CRS-22 Dragon payload mission to the space station from Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Takeoff is set for 1:29 p.m. EDT (1729 GMT). NASA’s launch webcast, which you’ll have the option to watch here on Space.com, will start at 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT).
“We are less than 24 hours away from our 22nd resupply mission to the International Space Station,” Sarah Walker, Dragon mission management for SpaceX, which has been flying commercial cargo missions for NASA since 2012, said during a news conference held Wednesday (June 2). “I feel like I blinked and we’re here talking about the 22nd one.”
Thursday’s launch will haul around 4,300 lbs. (1,950 kilograms) of pressurized cargo to the International Space Station, including new supplies for the station’s astronaut team and experiment gear, just as two new roll-out solar arrays to be installed during forthcoming spacewalks, NASA’s Joel Montalbano, space station program manager, told journalists.
While SpaceX is approaching the two-dozen mark with its NASA cargo missions, the impending CRS-22 flight stands separated from ongoing flights as a result of its new booster. The organization consistently reflies the first stages of its Falcon 9 rockets — and surprisingly its Dragon capsules — as a component of its reusability program to bring lower launch costs.
“This is the 17th mission that SpaceX has launched just in this front half of 2021 this year, and the first one where we’re introducing a new booster to the fleet,” Walker said, adding that the company’s recent baseline has been to fly Falcon 9 stages at least two or three times (the current record is 10 flights, set last month). “So we’re actually surprised when we get to a mission like today’s where we’re flying a new booster. I think that’s really neat.”
On the off chance that all works out in a good way, the pristine Falcon 9 booster will launch its CRS-22 Dragon load transport into space and afterward land on SpaceX’s robot boat Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean so it tends to be recuperated for later reuse. The Dragon capsule, in the interim, will forge ahead to the station, where it is planned to show up on Saturday (June 5) at 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT).
At present, weather forecasts predict a 60% possibility of good launch conditions for SpaceX, with the danger of rain showers posing the main concern. Comparable conditions are normal on Friday, a backup launch day for SpaceX, as per weather officials. In any case, a 60% possibility is encouraging.
“I do think that there’s still a better than average chance that we’ll be able to thread the needle and get in a good opportunity for tomorrow,” said launch weather officer Mark Burger of the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in the briefing.
SpaceX is one of two organizations (Northrop Grumman is the other) with multi-billion-dollar contracts with NASA to fly uncrewed load resupply missions to the International Space Station.
SpaceX additionally utilizes a Crew Dragon version of its spacecraft to fly astronauts to the station for NASA. The organization’s latest mission, Crew-2, carried four astronauts to the circling lab a month ago. Boeing likewise has a NASA crew contract, yet presently can’t seem to launch astronauts.