Clocks Ticking Toward Launch; Live Coverage Begins Now

spacex-launch-1Despite the early hour, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is abuzz with activity as launch managers and controllers prepare for this morning’s planned liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. The SpaceX CRS-5 mission is the fifth in a series of cargo resupply flights to the International Space Station, and is set to deliver science experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies for the station’s resident crewmembers.

Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 is set for an instantaneous launch opportunity at 6:20 a.m. EST. Weather is 90 percent “go,” with thick clouds the primary concern.

Both the Falcon 9 and the Dragon are powered up, and the rocket’s propellants – RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen – already have been loaded.

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.

CRS-5 Launch Date: NET Jan. 6

NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6. This will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further some of the issues that arose from the static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year.

Beta angles are the angles between the space station orbital plane and the sun, resulting in the station being in almost constant sunlight for a 10 day period. During this time, there are thermal and operational constraints that prohibit Dragon from berthing to the station. This high beta period runs from Dec. 28 through Jan. 7.

The new launch date also will allow the teams to enjoy the holidays.

Space station managers will meet on Monday, Jan. 5, for a thorough readiness review in advance of the Jan. 6 launch attempt. The launch postponement has no impact on the station’s crew, its complement of food, fuel and supplies and will not impact the science being delivered to the crew once Dragon arrives at the station.

A launch on Tuesday, Jan. 6, is scheduled at about 6:18 a.m. EST. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5 a.m.

A backup launch attempt is available on Wednesday, Jan. 7.

A launch on Jan. 6 will result in a rendezvous and grapple of Dragon on Thursday, Jan. 8, at approximately 6 a.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. Installation coverage will begin at 9 a.m.

Prelaunch briefings at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will be rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 5 with the times to be determined.

For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit:

NASA, SpaceX Update Launch of Resupply Mission

The fifth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract now is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1:20 p.m. EST Friday, Dec. 19, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 12:15 p.m.

The change of launch date allows SpaceX to take extra time to ensure they do everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch. Both the Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon spacecraft are in good health.

The prelaunch news conferences also have moved to Thursday, Dec. 18 at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The first briefing of the day will air at noon and will provide up-to-date information about the launch. Participants for the prelaunch briefing will be:

  • Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS Program manager
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for Mission Assurance at SpaceX
  • Kathy Winters with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral  Air Force Station in Florida

The second briefing, now at 1:30 p.m., will cover some of the numerous science investigations headed to the space station. Participants for the science briefing will be:

  • Julie Robinson, NASA’s ISS Program chief scientist
  • Michael Roberts, senior research pathway manager at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, headquartered in Melbourne, Florida
  • Cheryl Nickerson, Micro-5 principal investigator at Arizona State University
  • Samuel Durrance, NR-SABOL principal investigator at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne

The final briefing, now at 3 p.m., will cover the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) Earth science instrument headed to the space station. Participants for this briefing will be:

  • Julie Robinson, ISS Program chief scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Colleen Hartman, deputy director for science at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
  • Robert J. Swap, program scientist with the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Matthew McGill, CATS principal investigator at Goddard

An on-time launch on Dec. 19 will result in the Dragon spacecraft arriving at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 21. Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA will use the station’s 57.7-foot robotic arm to reach out and capture it at about 6 a.m. Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency will support Wilmore as they operate from the station’s cupola. NASA TV coverage of grapple will begin at 4:30 a.m. Coverage of Dragon’s installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin 9 a.m.