Due to poor weather conditions in the area along Florida’s Space Coast for today’s planned launch of SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station, SpaceX and NASA now are targeting liftoff for 2:20 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 26, from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch coverage will begin at 2 p.m. EST on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.
A launch Saturday would lead to docking Sunday, Nov. 27, for the Dragon to deliver important research, crew supplies and hardware to the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory. Docking coverage will begin at 6 a.m. with the spacecraft planned to arrive at the space station around 7:30 a.m.
The countdown continues toward liftoff at 3:54 p.m. EST, 10 minutes from now. During this time, the Falcon 9’s engines will be chilled to condition them for launch, the flight computer will run its prelaunch checks and the rocket’s propellant tanks will be brought to flight pressure. Fueling of the Falcon 9 second stage began just minutes ago. Finally, SpaceX has given a “go for launch.”
About three minutes prior to launch, the access arm will swing away from the rocket. The terminal countdown begins at T-30 seconds.
During SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA, the Dragon spacecraft will deliver more than 7,700 pounds of supplies, equipment and several science investigations to the crew aboard the station, including the next pair of International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), which will increase the power on the space station. Among the science experiments are:
A study to grow dwarf tomatoes to help create a continuous fresh-food production system in space, as well as an experiment that tests an on-demand method to create specific quantities of key nutrients.
Other studies launching include a test of a microscope with potential deep space applications and Engineered Heart Tisues-2 (EHT-2), a study of cardiac health. This experiment builds on an investigation of 3D cultures aboard the space station in 2020. The previous experiment detected changes at the cellular and tissue level that could provide early indication of the development of cardiac disease. This study tests whether new therapies could prevent these negative effects from occurring.
Humans have occupied the space station continuously since November 2000. In that time, 263 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft have visited the orbital outpost. It remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, including future missions to the Moon under Artemis, and ultimately, human exploration of Mars.
Also hitching a ride on this mission are four CubeSats for NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites, or ELaNa. They will be deployed after launch. The first is Measurement of Actuator Response in Orbit (MARIO), which will add telescopes to an existing CubeSat in low-Earth orbit. The second is called petitSat. The CubeSat’s goal is to figure out how plasma bubbles and blobs affect communication, GPS, and radar signals. The third is called Scintillation Prediction Observation Research Task (SPORT), a joint mission between the U.S. and Brazil to investigate the conditions that lead to the formation of plasma bubbles. And the final CubeSat is called Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Research and Education Vehicle for Evaluating Radio Broadcasts (TJREVERB), developed by high school students, which will test the strength and consistency of iridium radio signals, the main way we communicate with CubeSats.
The rocket awaiting launch this afternoon is the SpaceX Falcon 9, a two-stage vehicle topped by the company’s uncrewed Dragon spacecraft. The Falcon 9 first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines that ignite at T-0; its second stage has a single Merlin engine that takes over after separation of the first stage. Merlin engines run on a combination of cryogenic liquid oxygen and a refined kerosene fuel called RP-1.
Installed atop the rocket, the Dragon spacecraft is loaded with cargo bound for the International Space Station. The Dragon offers a pressurized section as well as an unpressurized “trunk” section for additional cargo. Also located in the trunk are the spacecraft’s power-producing solar arrays.
Weather conditions have improved slightly to a 30% chance of launch today.
Good afternoon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for the company’s 26th commercial resupply services mission stand ready for liftoff at Launch Complex 39A. Launch is scheduled for 3:54 p.m. EST during an instantaneous opportunity. Dragon’s internal countdown is running and propellant loading is underway. Fueling of the Falcon 9 first stage began at T-35 minutes.
It’s a wet day here on the Space Coast. The Launch Weather Office with the U.S. Space Force Weather Squadron is monitoring conditions in the launch area, the main concerns for today’s launch attempt are the thick cloud layer rule, cumulus cloud rule and flight through precipitation rule. The current weather prediction is 10% “go” at launch time.
Today’s launch is a cross-country effort. Launch controllers at the Florida spaceport are working in concert with teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and SpaceX’s control center in Hawthorne, California. The launch blog originates from the NASA News Center here at Kennedy, a few miles west of the launch complex.
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.