100th Launch from LC-39A

Today’s launch of the CRS-11 mission will mark the 100th liftoff from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The roster of iconic missions to begin at LC-39A includes the landmark Apollo 11 flight to land astronauts on the moon for the first time, the first launch of a space shuttle mission and the final flight of the shuttle program. SpaceX modified the pad extensively to the needs of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. Additions to the pad continue, including an upcoming crew access arm that will provide a walkway for astronauts climbing aboard Crew Dragon spacecraft in the future for Commercial Crew Program missions to the space station.

Weather Improving as CRS-11 Launch on Track for 5:07 P.M.

Welcome to Launch Day here on Florida’s Space Coast where a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand pointed toward space! Launch is scheduled for 5:07:38 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A. Today’s launch window is instantaneous to put the Dragon and its 6,000 pounds of cargo on course to catch up to the International Space Station.

Weather remains the top concern for this afternoon, but the forecast has improved greatly to a 90 percent chance of acceptable conditions today at launch time.

The launch team is working through its standard processes to prep the rocket and spacecraft for liftoff, including loading refined kerosene fuel and liquid oxygen into the two stages of the Falcon 9 rocket.

We will provide updates to the countdown status through launch and the Falcon 9’s climb into orbit. Dragon, which is flying without a crew aboard, will deliver a host of science experiments plus equipment and crew supplies to the station. The research will be conducted by the crew aboard the space station by the astronauts of Expeditions 52 and 53.

NASA TV coverage of the countdown also is underway and can be viewed here on NASA’s Launch Blog, on television or streaming at www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Saturday’s Launch Coverage Begins at 4:30 p.m. EDT

NASA TV and continuous coverage of the countdown here on the NASA Launch Blog will begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday as we move toward the launch of the SpaceX CRS-11 mission to carry almost 6,000 pounds of experiments, equipment and crew supplies to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

100 Missions and Counting for LC-39A

The CRS-11 mission will be the 100th mission to lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The pad, seen above during a previous SpaceX liftoff, has seen the beginning of many of NASA’s landmark missions, including Apollo 11’s mission to first land astronauts on the moon. The first space shuttle mission also started at LC-39A, as did 81 other shuttle missions. SpaceX has launched five Falcon 9 missions from the pad complex after modifying it from shuttle needs to Falcon 9 infrastructure.

Launch Day for SpaceX CRS-11

As a Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The rocket will boost a Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station on the company's eleventh cargo resupply mission.
As a Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The rocket will boost a Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station on the company’s eleventh cargo resupply mission. Credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have taken their positions ahead of this afternoon’s launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:55:53 p.m. eastern time. Our continuous countdown coverage will begin here on NASA’s Launch Blog and on NASA TV at 5:15 p.m. You can watch the NASA TV stream on the blog or streaming at  www.nasa.gov/nasatv

The forecast continues to call for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time. The primary concerns are clouds building up late in the afternoon.

The mission, which carries no crew, is the 11th cargo flight to the International Space Station for SpaceX. Inside Dragon are about 6,000 pounds of research and equipment, supplies for the station’s resident crew and other hardware necessary for the operation of the orbiting laboratory.

For a more detailed look at the mission at some of its scientific payloads, see our mission preview at https://go.nasa.gov/2qG4NYO Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Forecast 70 Percent ‘Go’ for Thursday Launch

The chance of anvil and cumulus clouds developing Thursday afternoon around launch time has Air Force meteorologists predicting a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions for the liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on a supply mission to the International Space Station. Launch is targeted for 5:55 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The forecast for a Friday launch calls for a 60 percent chance of acceptable conditions. SpaceX conducted a static test firing of the Falcon 9 rocket, shown above, on Sunday. The detailed forecast is below.

This will be the 100th launch from LC-39A, which was the starting point for Apollo 11’s landmark mission to the moon, the first space shuttle mission and five previous SpaceX flights.

The uncrewed Dragon spacecraft will be loaded with almost 6,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies and hardware for the orbiting laboratory in support of Expedition 52 and 53 crew members. The unpressurized trunk of the spacecraft also will transport solar panels, tools for Earth-observation and equipment to study neutron stars.  Known as CRS-11, this mission will be the eleventh for SpaceX under the company’s contract with NASA.

Forecast details: Moisture has begun to build in aloft today, signaling the start of Central Florida’s convective season. The storms will be guided by the orientation of the Bermuda Ridge axis, which is forecast to gradually shift north of the Spaceport over the next few days. A few storms may develop along the Space Coast today, and the storms will be more widespread on Wednesday as moisture continues to increase aloft. On launch day, the Bermuda Ridge axis is forecast to be north of the area, helping to steer most storms that develop inland, away from the Spaceport. Upper-level winds remain out of the northwest however, which will bring anvil clouds from inland storms back east. The primary concerns will be anvil & cumulus clouds. Max upper-level winds will be northwest at 100 kts at 45,000 ft.

On Friday, similar conditions are expected with an inland push to the storms via the steering winds. The steering direction begins to change on Saturday, increasing the probability that storms will remain along the Space Coast. The main concerns Saturday are anvil clouds, cumulus clouds, and flight through precipitation. Maximum upper-level winds will be from the northwest at 90 knots near 45,000 feet.

NASA Cargo Headed to Space Station Includes Important Experiments, Equipment

CRS-10_Final-patch

Major experiments that will look into a range of scientific disciplines from human health to atmospheric conditions on Earth are on their way to the International Space Station following liftoff at 9:39 a.m. EST aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. About 5,500 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies are packed into the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that is now in Earth orbit and headed to the station on the CRS-10 mission.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the first commercial launch from Kennedy’s historic pad.

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency and Shane Kimbrough of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Dragon when it arrives at the station. Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will begin at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 on NASA TV and the agency’s website, with installation coverage set to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Research materials flying inside the Dragon’s pressurized area include a crystal growth experiment that will crystallize a monoclonal antibody that is undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of immunological diseases. Growing the crystal in space will allow it develop more than it could on Earth where gravity causes crystals to collapse on themselves. Preserving these antibodies in crystals allows researchers a glimpse into how the biological molecules are arranged, which can provide new information about how they work in the body. So far, Earth-grown crystalline suspensions of monoclonal antibodies have proven to be too low-quality to fully model.

Better defining how some bacteria become drug-resistant is the focus of another experiment that aims to develop medicines that counter the resistance. Stem cells like those used to treat strokes and other occurrences also will be studied using experiment supplies brought up on this flight.

The equipment aboard the Dragon includes a major instrument that will survey Earth’s upper atmosphere in a continuation of one of NASA’s longest-running Earth-observing programs. Called SAGE III for Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment, the instrument examines the levels of ozone, aerosols, nitrogen dioxide and water vapor in the stratosphere and troposphere high above Earth. It is the latest version of an experiment that began in 1979 and has created a multi-decade record of measurements. The 2,200-pound instrument will be connected to the outside of the station to make daily observations for several years.

The mission is the company’s tenth cargo flight to the station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon’s cargo will support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations during the station’s Expeditions 50 and 51.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station in late March, returning nearly 5,000 pounds of science, hardware and crew supplies.