SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft – carrying several thousand pounds of critical science, hardware, and crew supplies – is on its way to the International Space Station following a successful launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at 8:30 p.m. EDT, beginning SpaceX’s 27th resupply services mission to the orbiting laboratory.
Dragon is now safely in orbit. A series of thruster firings will help Dragon reach the space station about 36 hours later. Upon its arrival, it will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg monitoring operations. Live coverage of Dragon’s arrival will air on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 6:15 a.m. Thursday, March 16. Docking is scheduled for approximately 7:52 a.m.
In addition to delivering station supplies, fresh food, and hardware, Dragon also will deliver multiple science and research investigations, including the final two experiments of the National Institutes for Health and International Space Station National Laboratory’s Tissue Chips in Space initiative. Both experiments – the Cardinal Heart 2.0 and Engineered Heart Tissues-2 – use small devices containing living cells that mimic functions of heart tissues and organs to understand the role of microgravity on human health and use this information to improve health on Earth.
Dragon will spend about a month attached to the space station before autonomously undocking and returning to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down in the off the coast of Florida.
Hello from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon spacecraft atop, stands ready for liftoff at historic Launch Complex 39A. Tonight’s launch is SpaceX’s 27th commercial resupply services mission for NASA, delivering more than 6,000 pounds of supplies, equipment, and research to the crew aboard the International Space Station. NASA is providing live coverage of the launch – watch now on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
Liftoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EDT, just 30 minutes away, and weather is looking great at 90% “go” for launch. Tonight’s launch is a coordinated effort, with launch controllers here in Florida working closely with teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and SpaceX’s control center in Hawthorne, California.
Fueling of the Falcon 9 began approximately 20 minutes ago, with liquid oxygen flowing into the rocket’s first stage. In the next few minutes, fueling of the second stage will begin.
Here’s a full look at tonight’s countdown and ascent milestones. All times (EDT) are approximate:
– 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 prelaunch 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 Hr/Min/Sec Event
00:01:12 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:24 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:28 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:35 2nd stage engine starts
00:05:44 1st stage entry burn begins
00:07:36 1st stage landing
00:08:38 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:11:34 Dragon separates from 2nd stage
00:12:22 Dragon nosecone open sequence begins
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon spacecraft atop, stands ready for liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The instantaneous launch is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EDT today, March 14, and meteorologists with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron are now predicting an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff.
Dragon is packed with more than 6,200 pounds of science, equipment, and supplies bound for the International Space Station. Also flying on Dragon is the agency’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 50 mission, which will deliver two CubeSats to low-Earth orbit to conduct science investigations of their own. Read about them here.
Beginning at 8 p.m. tonight, tune in to NASA TV, the NASA app, or the agency’s website for live launch countdown coverage, or follow along right here on the blog as we take you through all of the major milestones leading up to and after liftoff.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting 8:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, March 14, to launch the company’s 27th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch timing is dependent upon the undocking and return of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5.
On Monday, March 13, tune in to a prelaunch media teleconference at 8 p.m. EDT (or no earlier than one hour after completion of the Launch Readiness Review) with the following participants:
Phil Dempsey, transportation integration manager, International Space Station Program
Dr. Meghan Everett, deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program Research Office
Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
Mike McAleenen, launch weather officer, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron
Audio of the teleconference will stream live on the agency’s website. Media may ask questions via phone only. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, March 13, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, March 14, at 11 a.m. EDT, a science media teleconference will take place with the following participants:
Dr. Meghan Everett, deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program Research Office
Shane Johnson, former HUNCH student and current research assistant at the University of Texas at Austin, who will discuss the HUNCH Ball Clamp Monopod experiment
Dr. Mita Hajime, professor at the Fukuoka Institute of Technology and principal investigator for the Tanpopo-5 experiment
Dr. Ralf Moeller, microbiologist at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne, Germany, and principal investigator of the BIOFILMS study
On NASA’s next Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission, a pair of small satellites, called CubeSats, will hitch a ride on SpaceX’s 27th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA.
The ELaNa 50 complement of CubeSats will launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft this March, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, along with additional supplies, equipment, and science investigations to be delivered to the crew aboard the station.
The university-built CubeSats are going to space as part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). Once deployed, the CubeSats will demonstrate technologies to conduct atmospheric experiments and reduce space debris, as well as provide people on Earth the opportunity for an immediate and powerful connection with an object in space.
First Launch for The Natural State
The CSLI program will launch its first CubeSat from Arkansas. Developed at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, ARKSAT-1, is a CubeSat measuring 1U, or unit, (about 4 inches cubed). It will illuminate an LED from orbit and use a ground spectrometer to track and perform atmospheric measurements.
“It might be the first time this instrument technology is purposefully designed to be done with a CubeSat,” said Adam Huang, principal investigator. “It could be developed into future satellite-based systems using cooperative formations of CubeSats.”
ARKSAT-1’s secondary objective sets out to demonstrate a way to help alleviate the problem of space debris with a lightweight Solid State Inflatable Balloon (SSIB) that can be used to deorbit small satellites after a mission ends. When the balloon on ARKSAT-1 inflates, it will greatly increase the ARKSAT-1’s aerodynamic drag, thereby helping the satellite re-enter and disintegrate safely in Earth’s atmosphere. If successful, the SSIB technology could help reduce the amount of time a small satellite remains “space junk” in low-Earth orbit after its mission has ended.
Helping Others See the Light
LightCube, a 1U CubeSat developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Vega Space Systems and Mexico’s CETYS Universidad, features a flash bulb that can be controlled remotely by amateur radio operators on Earth who will be able to activate the satellite to produce a brief flash visible from the ground.
“LightCube provides potential users worldwide with the opportunity to telecommand a spacecraft and observe a tangible and immediate response in the night sky,” said Jaime Sanchez de la Vega, principal investigator. “The team hopes that this process inspires users to learn about space, satellites, and related concepts.”
The flash will appear at a brightness similar to the International Space Station, and several commonly available smartphone and computer apps will show when LightCube is overhead and where to look in the sky to see its flash.
Considering the observational environment, the LightCube team conducted an in-depth assessment to confirm that the brief flashes generated will not have a significant impact on astronomy.
In selecting the CubeSats for ELaNa 50, CSLI continues furthering its goal of providing U.S. educational institutions, nonprofits with an education/outreach component, informal educational institutions (museums and science centers), and NASA centers with access to space at a low cost. Through CSLI, NASA’s Launch Services Program pairs selected CubeSats with launches best suited for each CubeSat’s mission and ready date, taking into consideration the planned orbit and any special constraints the CubeSat’s mission may have.
Four small, shoebox-sized satellites are being prepared to launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 49 mission. The small satellites, called CubeSats, will study a range of topics – from satellite communication methods to space weather to testing technology for robotic assembly of large telescopes.
The CubeSats will hitch a ride on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft set to deliver additional science, crew supplies, and hardware to the station during the company’s 26th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. Launch is targeted at 4:19 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The first U.S. high school to send a CubeSat to space back in 2013, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Research and Education Vehicle for Evaluating Radio Broadcasts satellite aims to study the use of iridium as a primary radio communication method. Additionally, the satellite will demonstrate using a passive magnet onboard and the Earth’s magnetic field for stabilization rather than using an attitude determination and control system for pointing accuracy and stabilization for iridium. What makes this satellite even more notable is that it was a system’s engineering project. The students selected space-grade parts, wired the electronics for the satellite, wrote the drivers to control the different systems, and coded the flight software.
“What’s special about TJREVERB isn’t necessarily the mission, it’s what we did. These kids literally built a satellite the way the industry would build a satellite; we selected parts from vendors and got those parts to work together,” said Kristen Kucko, robotics lab director and the school’s space faculty advisor. “This is an engineering feat.”
The University of Michigan’s Measurement of Actuator Response In Orbit (MARIO) is a technology demonstration that will show how test structures made of a piezoelectric material – a type of material that bends when electricity is applied and can also generate electricity when bent – perform in low-Earth orbit. This will allow the spacecraft to bend or move without any rotating parts and could one day be used to point and adjust telescope mirrors more accurately.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Plasma Enhancement in The Ionosphere-Thermosphere Satellite (petitSat) will study density irregularities in the Earth’s ionosphere – a tiny fraction of the atmosphere made of plasma, or ionized gas. During long distance radio communication, the ionosphere reflects radio waves back to Earth. Disturbances in the upper atmosphere can change the shape of the ionosphere, creating a funhouse mirror effect and distorting these radio waves. The mission will use two instruments to measure the structure and motion of plasma in the ionosphere resulting from these changes in the upper atmosphere to better understand how these affect satellite communications.
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT) will also look to the ionosphere to study space weather. The joint mission between the U.S. and Brazil will examine the formation of plasma bubbles, which sometimes scatter radio signals. Understanding how these bubbles are formed and how their evolution impacts communication signals can help scientists improve the reliability of communication and navigation systems.
“The more we learn about space weather – and how to predict it – the better we can protect our astronauts, spacecraft, and technology,” said Shelia Nash-Stevenson, SPORT project manager.
All of these were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), which provides U.S. educational institutions, nonprofits with an education/outreach component, informal educational institutions (museums and science centers), and NASA centers with access to space at a low cost. Once the CubeSat selections are made, NASA’s Launch Services Program works to pair them with a launch that is best suited to carry them as auxiliary payloads, taking into account the planned orbit and any constraints the CubeSat missions may have.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting 4:19 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 21, to launch the company’s 26th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.
Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew.
Live launch coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Friday, Nov. 18. Follow all events at: https://www.nasa.gov/live.
The small satellites were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which provides low-cost access to space for U.S. educational institutions, NASA centers, and others to develop and demonstrate novel technologies in space and to inspire and grow the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists.
The CubeSats were developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; The Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida; and the University of South Alabama in Mobile. The CubeSats will be deployed from the space station.
NASA has selected over 200 CubeSat missions from more than 100 unique organizations representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico through the CubeSat Launch Initiative since 2010. To date, 134 CubeSat missions have launched into space through ELaNa rideshare opportunities.
Joint teams from NASA and SpaceX have completed a launch readiness review ahead of the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for the agency. Liftoff is targeted for Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 5:06 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the live launch broadcast will begin at 4:45 a.m.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have been mated inside the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A. Rollout to the launch pad is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 19, when teams from SpaceX will then raise the Falcon 9 – with Dragon atop – into vertical position in preparation for launch.
Tune in on NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website at noon Monday, Dec. 20, for the prelaunch news conference from Kennedy’s Press Site with the following participants:
Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
Bob Dempsey, acting deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program
Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver 6,500 pounds of new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew. Research includes a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. Also aboard are experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program as well as an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.