NASA provider SpaceX is scheduled to launch its 10th Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station no earlier than 10:01 a.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 18. Live coverage of the launch will begin at 8:30 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will lift off on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory in support of the Expedition 50 and 51 crew members.
Media at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will have the opportunity to participate in special tours and briefings Feb. 16 and 17, as well as view the launch. The deadline for media to apply for accreditation for this launch has passed. For more information about media accreditation, contact Jennifer Horner at 321-867-6598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About 10 minutes after launch, Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit, deploy its solar arrays and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. SpaceX also is planning to attempt to land its Falcon 9 first stage on land.
Astronauts Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station’s robotic arm to capture Dragon when it arrives at the space station after its two-day journey. The spacecraft will be berthed to the Earth-facing port on the Harmony module. The following day, the space station crew will pressurize the vestibule between the station and Dragon, then open the hatch that leads to the forward bulkhead of Dragon.
Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will begin at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 20, on NASA TV, with installation set to begin at 11:30 a.m.
If the launch does not occur Saturday, Feb. 18, the next launch opportunity is 9:38 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, with NASA TV coverage starting at 8 a.m.
For about a month, crew members will unload the spacecraft and reload it with cargo to return to Earth. About five-and-a-half hours after it departs the station on March 21, it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Baja California.
Science investigations launching on Dragon include commercial and academic research investigations that will enable researchers to advance their knowledge of the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges astronauts face during long-duration spaceflight.
One experiment will use the microgravity environment to grow stem cells that are of sufficient quality and quantity to use in the treatment of patients who have suffered a stroke. A Merck Research Labs investigation will test growth in microgravity of antibodies important for fighting a wide range of human diseases, including cancer.
In addition, NASA’s Stratospheric Aerosol Gas Experiment III mission and Lightning Imaging Sensor will provide continuity for key climate observations and data records.
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