SpaceX will attempt its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station on Monday August 14th.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will launch on the back of a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center loaded with over 6,400 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware. The resupply will provide crucial materials for the more than 250 research investigations being conducted on the space station during Expeditions 52 and 53.
The Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit about 10 minutes after launch and will begin deploying its solar arrays. By carefully firing its thrusters, the craft will position itself to rendezvous with the space station.
The robotic arm of the space station will be used by NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli to capture the Dragon, which will be installed on to the station’s Harmony module. After approximately one month of being attached to the station, the Dragon will return to Earth caring results of previous experiments conducted on the orbiting laboratory. The craft should touch down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, Calif.
SpaceX began delivering cargo commercially to and from the International Space Station with its Dragon spacecraft in May of 2012. The Dragon is now launched by the companies two-stage rocket, the Falcon 9. The rocket’s first stage features nine Merlin engines which propel the Dragon into space with 1.8 million pounds of thrust. The second stage then separates using only one Merlin vacuum engine to carry the payload to its destination.
SpaceX was able to reland the first stage of the rocket for the first time in December of 2015. The Falcon 9 is the first orbital class rocket that is capable of being reused for multiple missions, which SpaceX believes is key to making space travel more affordable.
Make sure to follow Naples Herald on Facebook, where there will be a livestream of the rocket’s launch on Monday. Scheduled lift-off time is 12:51 p.m.
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