Dragon’s solar arrays are unfurled and the spacecraft will begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the orbiting laboratory three days later, Saturday, Dec. 8. Dragon will deliver about 5,600 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station.
The Dragon spacecraft has separated from the second stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s first-stage engines have finished their burn and the first stage has separated from the vehicle. As the second stage continues the flight, the first stage will aim for a landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
T-0, ignition and liftoff at 1:16 p.m. EST of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, setting off on the company’s 16th mission to deliver supplies, equipment and science materials to the International Space Station. The vehicle is quickly climbing away from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The countdown continues toward liftoff at 1:16 p.m. EST, an instantaneous launch window,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. Finally, the SpaceX Launch Director will verify “go for launch.”
About three minutes prior to launch, the gantry-like strongback support structure will be lowered away from the rocket. The terminal countdown begins at T-30 seconds.
Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are monitoring conditions in the launch area. The current weather prediction is 90 percent “go” at launch time.
Hello and good afternoon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It’s a beautiful, sunny day on the space coast. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff, at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch is targeted for 1:16 p.m. EST today, with an instantaneous launch window.
The Falcon 9 rocket went vertical this morning and weather is 90 percent favorable at launch time. Dragon’s internal countdown is running and propellant loading is underway.
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.
There’s more to come, so stay with us.
During SpaceX’s 16th Commercial Resupply Services Mission to the International Space Station for NASA, the Dragon spacecraft will deliver about 5,600 pounds of supplies, equipment and numerous science investigations to the crew aboard the station. Among the science experiments are:
- Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) is an exterior payload on the International Space Station, RRM3 will demonstrate innovative methods to store and replenish cryogenic fluids in space. These fluids have chemical and physical properties that make them useful for spaceflight, but storing them is tricky because they boil off over time. In addition to replenishing cryogenic fluid, RRM3 will store it for six months with zero boil off to demonstrate the efficient use of these important consumables. RRM3 builds on two previous robotic refueling technology demonstrations–RRM1 and RRM2. Not only could these technologies make refueling spacecraft in orbit possible, but the resulting capabilities also could be applied to exploration missions to the Moon and Mars. Read more at https://sspd.gsfc.nasa.gov/RRM3.html.
- The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) provides high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests and topography required to advance the understanding of important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat. GEDI is mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module’s Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) and provides the first high-resolution observations of forest vertical structure at a global scale. These observations quantify the aboveground carbon stored in vegetation and changes that result from vegetation disturbance and recovery, the potential for forests to sequester carbon in the future, and habitat structure and its influence on habitat quality and biodiversity.
- SEOPS’ SlingShot is a small satellite deployment system delivered by Dragon that fits inside the Cygnus spacecraft’s Passive Common Berthing Mechanism. The space station crew will install the SlingShot deployer and controller prior to Cygnus’s unberthing and departure. SlingShot can accommodate up to 18 CubeSat satellites of any format. After Cygnus is released from the station, the spacecraft navigates to an altitude of 280 – 310 miles (an orbit higher than the space station) to deploy the satellites.
Liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is targeted for 1:16 p.m. EST today. Countdown activities are in progress at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where the rocket awaits launch on the company’s 16th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.
CRS-16 is the sixth U.S. resupply mission to the space station, and the fourth resupply mission for SpaceX this year.
Be sure to join us here on the blog and on NASA Television beginning at 12:45 p.m. for updates from the countdown. Learn more about the SpaceX CRS-16 mission by going to the mission home page at http://www.nasa.gov/spacex.