Houston, We Have a Pepper

Four chile pepper plants growing aboard the International Space Station in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) bore fruit. Photo credit: NASA

Recently, the four chile pepper plants growing aboard the International Space Station in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) bore fruit – several peppers, in fact.

Peppers developed from flowers that bloomed in the Advanced Plant Habitat on the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

The peppers developed from flowers that bloomed over the past few weeks. Peppers are self-pollinating, and once pollination occurred, peppers started forming 24 to 48 hours later; however, not all pollinated flowers developed into peppers.

A unique feature of the APH is that it can be controlled remotely. To pollinate the flowers in orbit, the team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center instructed APH to run its fans at variable rates to create a gentle breeze in microgravity to agitate the flowers and encourage the transfer of pollen. The space station crew also provided assistance by hand pollinating some of the flowers.

GMT273_12_13_For Huntsville_Megan McArthur_1091_Plant Habitat 04

Studies of fruit development in microgravity are limited, and NASA researchers have noted lower fruit development versus ground observations in this experiment for reasons that are not fully understood at this point. Overcoming the challenges of growing fruit in microgravity is important for long-duration missions during which crew members will need good sources of Vitamin C – such as peppers – to supplement their diets.

The average length for this type of pepper is just over three inches in ground tests. Hatch chile peppers are a mild heat pepper that starts out as green and will ripen to red over time, but it’s unknown what effect microgravity will have on the length to which they grow and their potency.

Astronauts will perform two harvests this year – one at 100 days in late October, and one at 120 days in early November. At those times, astronauts will sanitize the peppers, eat part of their harvests, and return the rest to Earth for analysis.

Cargo Dragon Splashes Down in the Atlantic, Science Delivered to Kennedy

SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft
SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft is lifted aboard a recovery vessel after splashing down off the coast of Florida on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. The capsule, carrying cargo that flew aboard NASA’s SpaceX 23rd commercial resupply services mission, undocked from the International Space Station Thursday at approximately 9 a.m. The event marked the first time a Cargo Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. Photo credit: SpaceX

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft completed a successful parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida around 11 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 30. The capsule undocked from the station’s forward port of the Harmony module Thursday at 9:12 a.m., completing the voyage in approximately 14 hours.

This marked the first time Cargo Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. The proximity to the coast of Florida enabled quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers hours after splashdown. The shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.

Dragon launched Aug. 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station the following day. The spacecraft delivered more than 4,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

MLP-2 Demolition Creates Opportunities for Artemis Missions

Moblie launcher platform 2
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a truck sprays water along the crawlerway to reduce dust ahead of the crawler-transporter moving the mobile launcher platform 2 (MLP-2) from Launch Pad 39A to a nearby park site in Launch Complex 39. MLP-2 was demolished, making way for newer, more advanced technology to be used in NASA’s Artemis missions. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

The mobile launcher platform 2, or MLP-2, served NASA well, as it was used for more than 50 Apollo and space shuttle missions at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center from 1968 to 2011.

A nine-month demolition project for the 25-foot high, 160-foot long, and 135-foot-wide platform, which weighed 9.1 million pounds, was completed last month. Though MLP-2 was a historic piece of equipment, its removal makes way for newer, more advanced technology at the Florida spaceport.

Mobile launcher platform 2 demolition project
The two mobile launcher platforms are seen at the park site at Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 4, 2021. A nine-month demolition project for Mobile launcher platform 2, which used during the shuttle program, was recently completed. NASA/Kim Shiflett

“It was bittersweet having to dismantle MLP-2,” said John Giles, Exploration Ground Systems crawler transporter operations manager. “However, it allows us to make room for newer, more advanced assets to support Artemis missions that will return humans to the Moon and beyond.”

Mobile launcher platforms were used for shuttle missions lifting off from Launch Complex 39A and 39B. These structures did not require a tower since the launch pad had a tower and rotating service structure to allow access to the vehicle.

Since the retirement of the shuttle program, the historic Launch Complex 39A, once the site of Apollo and Saturn V missions, was leased to SpaceX and upgraded to support commercial launches carrying cargo and astronauts into space.

Launch Complex 39B also has changed with the times. It began as an Apollo era structure, was converted for shuttle launches, and now is a clean pad ready to support the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, carrying the Orion spacecraft as the agency returns to the Moon. When SLS lifts off from pad 39B carrying Orion for the Artemis I mission, it will use the new, advanced mobile launcher that comes with a built-in tower.

Click here to watch a time-lapse video of the MLP-2 demolition.

Space Weather Focused ELaNa CubeSat Deploys from Cygnus Spacecraft

The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is pictured moments after its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is pictured moments after its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Cygnus and the International Space Station were orbiting 271 miles above the Indian Ocean south of Australia at the time this photograph was taken. Photo credit: NASA

The sole CubeSat of the 33rd Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission was deployed into space at 6:50 p.m. EDT June 29 from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft hours following its departure from the International Space Station.

The CubeSat, Ionosphere-Thermosphere Scanning Photometer for Ion-Neutral Studies (IT-SPINS), was stowed within the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (eNRCSD) mounted on the exterior of the S.S. Katherine Johnson Cygnus spacecraft. Once the Cygnus departed the space station, it remained in orbit to deploy a total of 5 cube satellites, including IT-SPINS, which was deployed into a free-flying orbit at an altitude between 304 and 210 miles (490 and 500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.

A Nanoracks employee performing the final integration of IT-SPINS into the E-NRCSD
Jake Cornish, a Nanoracks employee, performs the final integration of the Ionosphere-Thermosphere Scanning Photometer for Ion-Neutral Studies (IT-SPINS) CubeSat into the E-NRCSD. Photo credit: Nanoracks

This mission aims to improve space weather forecasting related to dynamic processes in Earth’s ionosphere. The 3U CubeSat is equipped with a sensitive photometric instrument to remotely sense ultraviolet emissions produced when oxygen ions combine with electrons in the ionosphere. This investigation plans to reveal the dynamics of a physical boundary region in Earth’s ionosphere where the oxygen-dominated ionosphere becomes proton dominated with increasing altitude, in a layer known as the Topside Transition Region (TTR).

IT-SPINS launched aboard Northrop Grumman’s 15th NASA contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on February 20.

IT-SPINS is the twelfth in a series of CubeSats developed by Montana State University’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory to advance CubeSat capabilities and conduct scientific investigations to answer question in the Geospace sciences. This mission is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which has supported it during its development and is supporting the beginning of operations. IT-SPINS was selected by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), which is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) based at Kennedy Space Center. Since its inception in 2010, CSLI has selected 202 CubeSat missions from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and 119 CubeSat projects have launched into space through ELaNa rideshare opportunities.

Stay connected with the ELaNa mission on social media by following LSP at @NASA_LSP on Twitter and @NASALSP on Facebook.

SpaceX’s 22nd Cargo Resupply Mission Underway as Dragon Journeys to Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A on June 3, 2021.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo capsule lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3, 2021, on the company’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission for the agency to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

More than 7,300 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware are on their way to the International Space Station, following the picture-perfect launch of SpaceX’s 22nd resupply services mission. SpaceX’s upgraded Dragon spacecraft launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, marking the first flight of this Dragon spacecraft. Liftoff occurred at 1:29 p.m. EDT.

An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A.
An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida ahead of the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

“The vehicles that deliver our crews, they do a great job of getting our crews there safely to and from station, but their cargo capacity is very limited,” said Jeff Arend, manager of the International Space Station Office for Systems Engineering and Integration. “We couldn’t conduct all of the science we do, as well as provide for our crew members, without our cargo resupply vehicles. Our cargo flights are vital to maintaining and fully utilizing our orbiting laboratory.”

The second launch for SpaceX under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract, the mission will deliver a variety of science and research experiments, including one that could help develop better pharmaceuticals and therapies for treating kidney disease on Earth, a study of cotton root systems that could identify plant varieties that require less water and pesticides, and an experiment using bobtail squid as a model to examine the effects of spaceflight on interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts.

Also included in the delivery are the first two of six new roll-out solar arrays. These will be extracted by a robotic arm and installed by astronauts during a series of spacewalks this summer.

The Falcon 9 rocket's second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as it continues on the company's 22nd commercial resupply services mission.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as Dragon continues on its journey to the International Space Station on the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission. In this view are the first two of six new solar arrays bound for the orbiting laboratory. Photo credit: NASA

“Over time, our solar arrays age. The first set of arrays have been up there over 20 years,” Arend said. “This augmentation is going to help us fully extend the life of the International Space Station and fully execute our full suite of research as we move forward. And probably most importantly, it allows us to power more science and research, especially in the form of future exploration systems and commercial users.”

About two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage separated from the rocket, and a few minutes later, successfully landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean. Next, Dragon separated from the rocket completely. The spacecraft is now in orbit, traveling solo to the space station.

Dragon is slated to arrive at the orbiting laboratory on Saturday, June 5, and will autonomously dock to the space-facing port on the station’s Harmony module. Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA will monitor docking operations, and live coverage will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT. Docking is targeted for 5 a.m.

Dragon will spend more than a month attached to the space station, after which it will return to Earth with up to 5,300 pounds of research and return cargo, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of Florida.

To stay updated on all station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. Or, follow along the station blog at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.

NASA, SpaceX Ready for Tomorrow’s Cargo Resupply Launch to Station

A prelaunch news conference is held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 2, 2021, in preparation for SpaceX's 22nd cargo resupply mission.
A prelaunch news conference for SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA to the International Space Station is held on June 2, 2021 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left are Joel Montalbano, manager for International Space Station Program; Jennifer Buchli, deputy chief scientist for International Space Station Program; and Sarah Walker, director, Dragon mission management at SpaceX. The Dragon capsule atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex 39A at 1:29 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 3. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the company’s upgraded Dragon spacecraft, stands ready for launch at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. Following a prelaunch news conference held at Kennedy, NASA and SpaceX remain on track for the company’s 22nd cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

“Just a couple of months ago, the Crew-2 crew got on board, and now they’re waiting to receive all this science and do it, so it’s really exciting for us at SpaceX,” said Sarah Walker, director of Dragon Mission Management at SpaceX. “Thanks to NASA for your ongoing partnership; this is an exciting mission, and tomorrow is just one more example of a long history that we’re thankful for.”

The logo for SpaceX's 22nd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

Liftoff is slated to occur at 1:29 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 3, and weather officials continue to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The primary weather concerns for liftoff are the cumulus cloud rule and flight through precipitation.

“It’s Florida, it’s summertime, and that means showers and storms; the main issue would be a few of those showers that come off of the coast and head toward our launch facility,” said Mark Burger, launch weather officer with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron. “However, given that there’s quite a lot of real estate between each one of those showers, I do think there’s still a better-than-average chance that we’ll be able to thread the needle and get in a good launch opportunity for tomorrow.”

Dragon will deliver more than 7,300 pounds of science and research investigations, supplies, and hardware to the orbiting laboratory and its crew. A few of the investigations arriving in Dragon’s pressurized capsule include an experiment that could help develop better pharmaceuticals and therapies for treating kidney disease on Earth, a study of cotton root systems that could identify plant varieties that require less water and pesticides, and an experiment using bobtail squid as a model to examine the effects of spaceflight on interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts.

The first two of six new solar arrays for the International Space Station have been loaded into Dragon’s unpressurized spacecraft trunk for CRS-22.
The first two of six new solar arrays for the International Space Station have been loaded into Dragon’s unpressurized spacecraft trunk. SpaceX will deliver them to the orbiting laboratory during its next cargo resupply mission, targeted for June 3 at 1:29 p.m. Photo credit: SpaceX

Also included in that delivery are the first two of six new roll-out solar arrays, which will be installed during spacewalks later this month to upgrade the station’s power capabilities.

“With seven crew members on board, the team is really just knocking it out of the park,” said Joel Montalbano, program manager for NASA’s International Space Station Program Office. “The utilization and research that they’re able to do on board, the commercialization efforts, the technology developed for our lunar program – it’s really a pleasure to watch these guys. They’re excited for the mission, and they’re excited to see these two new solar arrays on board.”

About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, starting its solo journey to the space station. The uncrewed spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the station on Saturday, June 5. Upon its arrival, Dragon will autonomously dock to the space station’s Harmony module, with Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitoring operations.

After spending about one month attached to the station, Dragon will autonomously undock to begin its journey home. Upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of Florida, bringing with it experiment samples and return cargo.

Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website at 1 p.m. EDT tomorrow, or follow along right here on the blog, for live launch countdown coverage. Learn more about the mission at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/spacex-22-mission-overview.

Hometown Heroes: Students Create Satellite Inspired by Gatlinburg Wildfires

Robertsville Middle School students and mentor working on the ELaNa 36 CubeSat, RamSat
Robertsville Middle School students and their mentor work on the ELaNa 36 CubeSat, RamSat. Photo credit: Robertsville Middle School

RamSat, a small research satellite, or CubeSat, developed by Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, will launch aboard SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-22) mission. Lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3 at 1:29 p.m. EDT, CRS-22 will carry 7,300 pounds of cargo, science, and research to the International Space Station. The RamSat CubeSat onboard is on a mission to study forest regrowth in the Gatlinburg area following the 2016 wildfires.

This satellite will use small cameras to capture pictures of growing forests and radio communication to send those images to ground control in Robertsville Middle School’s STEM Classroom. Students will operate the mission using amateur radio frequencies to listen for RamSat flying overhead, send commands to control the spacecraft, and gather image data and information about the spacecraft’s health. RamSat’s mission, which could last up to 18 months, will begin when it deploys from the space station into its own orbit 250 miles above Earth.

The concept for RamSat was created by students, Tyler Dunham and Aidan Hilliard. During its approximately five-year development, over 150 students have had the opportunity to work on the CubeSat. Robertsville Middle School was selected by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) in 2018. CSLI enables the launch of CubeSats designed, built, and operated by students, teachers and faculty, as well as NASA centers and nonprofit organizations. Managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions provide a deployment opportunity or ride-share launch to space for CubeSats selected by CSLI. RamSat will launch as the sole CubeSat of the agency’s 36th ELaNa mission (ELaNa 36).

Stay connected with the mission on social media by following NASA’s Launch Services Program at @NASA_LSP on Twitter and NASA LSP on Facebook.

SpaceX’s CRS-21 Underway; Upgraded Cargo Dragon En Route to Space Station

Liftoff of SpaceX's CRS-21 mission to the International Space Station.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:17 a.m. EST on Dec. 6, 2020, carrying the uncrewed cargo Dragon spacecraft on its journey to the International Space Station for NASA and SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission. Dragon will deliver more than 6,400 pounds of science investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory. The mission marks the first launch for SpaceX under NASA’s CRS-2 contract. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

SpaceX’s upgraded cargo Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff occurred at 11:17 a.m. EST.

The first launch for SpaceX under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract, CRS-21 will deliver supplies, equipment, and materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur aboard the orbiting laboratory during Expeditions 64 and 65.

The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is the first comercially funded airlock bound for the International Space Station on SpaceX's CRS-21 mission.
The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is packed in the Dragon spacecraft’s trunk on Oct. 12, 2020, inside SpaceX’s processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its ride to the International Space Station aboard the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission. Photo credit: SpaceX

Included in this delivery is the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, the first commercially owned and operated airlock that, once installed, will provide a variety of capabilities to the space station, such as payload hosting, robotics testing, and satellite deployment. It also will serve as an outside toolbox for crew members conducting spacewalks.

Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the space station tomorrow, Dec. 7. At approximately 1:30 p.m. EST, the spacecraft will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module – the first automated docking for a SpaceX cargo resupply mission. Live coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. EST on NASA TV and the agency’s website. NASA astronauts and Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will monitor docking operations.

Cargo Dragon’s arrival at the space station will mark the first time two Dragon spacecraft will be docked to the orbiting laboratory at the same time. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, that brought the Crew-1 astronauts has been docked since its arrival on Nov. 16.

The cargo Dragon spacecraft will remain attached to the space station for about one month, after which it will return to Earth with 5,200 pounds of research and return cargo, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.

To stay updated on all station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. Or, follow along the station blog at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/

Live Countdown Coverage Begins for SpaceX’s CRS-21 Mission

SpaceX's CRS-21 mission.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the upgraded cargo Dragon spacecraft atop, stands ready for liftoff at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Dec. 5, 2020, ahead of the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) launch. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for 11:17 a.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 6. Photo credit: SpaceX

Hello, and good morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! Live countdown coverage for the launch of SpaceX’s 21st resupply services (CRS-21) mission to the International Space Station has begun – watch now on NASA TV or the agency’s website.

SpaceX's Cargo Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket stand ready for liftoff for CRS-21.
The upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket stand ready for liftoff at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida after being raised to a vertical position on Dec. 2, 2020, ahead of the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) launch. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for 11:17 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6. Photo credit: SpaceX

The uncrewed cargo Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are scheduled to lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A in just about 30 minutes, at 11:17 a.m. EST. The mission will deliver more than 6,400 pounds of supplies, equipment, and critical materials to support dozens of science and research experiments that will take place during Expeditions 64 and 65.

About 12 minutes after today’s launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, beginning a series of carefully choreographed thruster firings to reach the orbiting laboratory. Here’s a full look at today’s countdown and ascent milestones. All times are approximate:

COUNTDOWN
Hour/Min/Sec – Events
-00:38:00 – SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
-00:35:00 – RP-1 (rocket-grade kerosene) loading begins
-00:35:00 – 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
-00:16:00 – 2nd stage LOX loading begins
-00:07:00 – Falcon 9 begins pre-launch engine chill
-00:05:00 – Dragon transitions to internal power
-00:01:00 – Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
-00:01:00 – Propellant tanks pressurize for flight
-00:00:45 – SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
-00:00:03 – Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
-00:00:00 – Falcon 9 liftoff

LAUNCH, LANDING AND DRAGON DEPLOYMENT
Hour/Min/Sec – Event
00:01:18 – Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:30 – 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:34 – 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:41 – 2nd stage engine starts
00:06:37 – 1st stage entry burn begins
00:08:38 – 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:08:38 – 1st stage landing
00:11:49 – Dragon separates from 2nd stage
00:12:35 – Dragon nosecone open sequence begins

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Cargo Dragon Stand Ready for CRS-21 Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff for the company's CRS-21 mission on Dec. 6, 2020.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the upgraded cargo Dragon spacecraft atop, stands ready for liftoff at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Dec. 5, 2020, ahead of the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) launch. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for 11:17 a.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 6. Photo credit: SpaceX

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida for the company’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for today, Dec. 6, at 11:17 a.m. EST.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing are predicting a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for today’s launch, with the primary concern revolving around the thick cloud layer rule.

Some of the science that will be delivered on this mission includes 3D engineered heart tissues for a study that will examine how prolonged exposure to microgravity affects the human heart, meteorite samples and microbes to research the formation and biomining of asteroid material in space, and a study that will observe how brain organoids respond to microgravity. More information on these and additional payloads can be found at: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/spacex-21-research-highlights

Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website at 10:45 a.m. EST for live launch countdown coverage or follow along right here on the blog.