90 Percent ‘Go’ Forecast for CRS-7

Weather forecasters from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 90 percent chance of favorable weather at the scheduled time for launch of SpaceX CRS-7. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is targeted for 10:21 a.m. EDT on Sunday, June 28, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This is the company’s seventh cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Launch coverage on NASA Television will begin at 9 a.m. A Sunday launch will result in the Dragon spacecraft arriving at the space station on Tuesday, June 30. Expedition 44 Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Dragon at about 7 a.m. Station commander Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will support Kelly as they operate from the station’s cupola. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple of Dragon will begin at 5:30 a.m. Coverage of Dragon’s installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 8:30 a.m.

If the launch does not occur on Sunday, the next launch opportunity would be at 9:58 a.m. on Monday, June 29, resulting in a grapple and berthing on Thursday, July 2.

The Dragon spacecraft will be filled with more than 4,000 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials for the science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 44 and 45. Science payloads will offer new insight to combustion in microgravity, perform the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere, continue solving potential crew health risks and make new strides toward being able to grow food in space. Research continues to support the twins study and one-year mission investigations with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. This mission also is launching more than 30 student experiments, all of which are flying to the U.S. National Laboratory managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). The first of two International Docking Adapters for the station will be delivered in Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. The adapters will enable space station docking of commercial crew spacecraft, including the Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Crew Dragon.

After more than five weeks at the space station, the spacecraft will return with more than 1,400 pounds of cargo, including science experiments, crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, space station hardware, and trash.

In addition to launch coverage, NASA also will host a series of prelaunch news conferences and events on Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All briefings will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. A full listing may be found at http://go.nasa.gov/1fEGZiE

SpaceX CRS-7 Launch Date: June 28

The seventh SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract now is targeted for launch at 10:21 a.m. EDT on Sunday, June 28, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. If the launch does not occur on Sunday, the next launch opportunity would be at 9:58 a.m. on Monday, June 29.

The company’s Falcon 9 rocket will carry its Dragon cargo spacecraft filled with more than 5,500 pounds of supplies and payloads for the station, including critical materials to the science and research investigations that will occur during Expedition 44 and 45.

Future Lettuce: Planting the Seeds for Veg-03

Gioia Massa glue seeds in place in a lab at Kennedy. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

A small team of researchers glued the seeds into place Thursday on Earth so astronauts may grow them into lettuce and cabbage plants in space later this year. Working at a lab at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the scientists spent the week packing sterile soil and specialized fertilizer into Teflon and Kevlar envelopes they call pillows before placing the seeds carefully inside. The seeds are not planted, but rather glued into their optimal position using a common food ingredient known as guar gum. They are positioned so roots can quickly find their water supply and the above-ground portion of the lettuce can sprout as efficiently as possible. The pouches will be enclosed in a transport bag for flight to the International Space Station then moved to a special container that includes lights, a camera and other essentials when the experiment beings in orbit. Astronauts on the orbiting laboratory will water the seeds daily while researchers on the ground do the same thing to provide a control group.

The seeds, placed inside 18 plant pillows, will be carried into space on the CRS-7 mission due to launch next week on a SpaceX Dragon/Falcon 9. The experiment will be the latest version of the Veggie research that began last year with a lettuce crop grown on the orbiting laboratory.  The ultimate goal is a system that will reliably grow plants for astronauts as they traverse deep space and make a journey to Mars. The plants would be a supplement to their food and would provide unique nutritional value to astronauts.