Falcon 9, Dragon Set for Tuesday Morning Launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are prepared for Tuesday’s planned launch, and the International Space Station is ready to receive the cargo that will be sent aloft on the resupply flight, NASA and SpaceX officials reported today.

Launch of the Falcon 9 rocket on the SpaceX CRS-5 mission is scheduled for 6:20 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40.

Clouds across the launch area are expected to thin out, and forecasters with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions at launch time.

Join us right here tomorrow at 5 a.m. EST for live updates from the countdown.

Science Payloads Headed to ISS

The Dragon spacecraft is carrying a wide variety of science investigations to the International Space Station on SpaceX CRS-5.

alzresearch-microscope466x248_0 SABOL, short for Self-Assembly in Biology and the Origin of Life: A Study into Alzheimer’s, could advance our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions – and, scientists hope, ultimately help develop a way to stop them.

The Advanced Plant EXperiments on Orbit (APEX) 3 and Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) 20 are designed to help investigate how cells, plants and animals respond to changes in gravity. These experiments will help advance knowledge in the physical and biological sciences that in turn could benefit humans on Earth as well as astronauts on long-duration space missions.

acd14-0023-003-crop_0NASA’s Fruit Fly Lab is making its debut aboard the space station with Fruit Fly Lab-01. The fruit fly is a widely studied biological research model, and this study will help us better understand how spaceflight impairs the body’s ability to fight infections.

Student science is ready to fly after the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program worked quickly to prepare their investigations for a second chance at launch.

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, is launching new science to the International Space Station:

CATS Payload to Study Atmospheric Aerosols and Clouds

CATS_on_ISS_printThe Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS, is a lidar remote-sensing instrument set to launch tomorrow on SpaceX CRS-5. The payload will extend profile measurements of atmospheric aerosols and clouds from the International Space Station.

CATS is designed to measure the location, composition and distribution of pollution, dust, smoke, aerosols and other particulates in Earth’s atmosphere. The findings will improve our understanding of aerosol and cloud properties and interactions and improve climate change models.

Learn more here.

Launch Forecast Improves; Televised Events on Tap for Today

The launch weather forecast has improved to 70 percent “go,” according to the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron. The possibility of thick clouds is the primary concern. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:20 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Three news conferences related to the CRS-5 mission are scheduled for today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first event is a Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) briefing at noon, followed at 1:30 p.m. by an ISS Research and Technology panel. Events conclude with the prelaunch news conference at 4 p.m. All will air live on NASA Television.

Forecast: 60 Percent ‘Go’

Meteorologists are calling for a 60 percent chance of acceptable conditions early Tuesday morning, Jan. 6, for the launch of the SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The primary concern is for thick clouds developing over the Florida launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Launch time is 6:20 a.m. EST.

We’ll begin our continuous countdown and launch coverage here and on NASA TV at 5 a.m. The mission is the fifth cargo flight for SpaceX and will see the company’s Falcon 9 rocket lift a Dragon spacecraft into orbit loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the station during the station’s Expeditions 42 and 43.