The first launch weather forecast ahead of the SpaceX-3 cargo mission to the International Space Station sets out a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time, which remains 4:41 a.m. EDT. Thick clouds are seen as a potential obstacle according to the forecast. SpaceX-3 is the third commercial resupply mission to space station for SpaceX. During the mission, the Dragon capsule will deliver 4,969 pounds of cargo to the orbiting laboratory and return 3,578 pounds to Earth.
Here’s a complete schedule of our coverage plans for the March 16 launch of SpaceX-3 to the International Space Station. Liftoff remains slated for 4:41 a.m. eastern time.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk released this photo yesterday of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the SpaceX-3 mission to the International Space Station. The unusual feature is the landing legs on the side of the rocket. According to Musk, they are 60 feet in diameter. He said the booster will still land in the ocean, but will attempt what’s known as a soft landing instead of simply plummeting as such stages have done until now. The exception is the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters which parachuted into the water and were recovered for reuse. Musk has said before that his goal is to bring the spent first stage back to land on land so the booster and its 9 engines can be used again. Musk ended his posts saying the company needs to prove precision control of the stage throughout the deceleration from hypersonic to subsonic speeds.
The upcoming launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon spacecraft loaded with cargo is the latest in NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. Find out more about CRS here.