Second SpaceX Space Station resupply flight ready to go

Feb 26, 2013 by Cheryl L. Mansfield
A truck carrying the first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket arrives at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Nov. 11, 2012. Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

(Phys.org)—The second International Space Station Commercial Resupply Services flight by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is set for liftoff at 10:10 a.m. EST on March 1 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Carried by a Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon spacecraft will ferry 1,268 pounds of supplies for the and for experiments being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The Falcon 9 and Dragon were manufactured at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., and arrived at the Florida launch site by truck. The rocket, topped with the spacecraft, stands 157-feet tall.

The two-stage rocket uses nine engines to power the first stage, generating 855,000 pounds of thrust at sea level, rising to nearly 1,000,000 pounds of thrust as Falcon 9 climbs out of Earth's atmosphere. One engine powers the second stage to complete the climb to space. The 14.4-foot-tall Dragon spacecraft is capable of carrying more than 7,000 pounds of cargo split between pressurized and unpressurized sections.

The Dragon spacecraft stands inside a processing hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where teams had just installed the spacecraft's solar array fairings on Jan. 12, 2013. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

On March 2, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA are scheduled use the station's to grapple Dragon following its rendezvous with the orbiting outpost. Ground commands will be sent to attach the spacecraft to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module where it will remain for a few weeks while astronauts unload cargo. The crew then will load more than 2,600 pounds of experiment samples and equipment for return to Earth.

Dragon is scheduled for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California on March 25.

This SpaceX flight is the second of at least 12 missions to the space station that the company will fly for NASA under the Commercial Resupply Services contract.

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VendicarE
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2013
Good luck to Space-x

Don't blow up.
Sanescience
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2013
Go, go, go, crossing fingers and toes.

I'm a big fan of SpaceX. Ok, that said, They sure have a *lot* of stuff on their launch manifest. Have had in the past to, but they haven't really ramped up the launches. I've been wondering what the discrepancy is about. It might be their pushing back their "ramp up" because of the occasional issue (like the pressure loss of engine 9 last mission) Don't want to mass produce super expensive systems until your *really* sure it is working right ;-)
Tim
4.3 / 5 (3) Feb 26, 2013
I don't think it's just the "occasional issue" that's keeping them from ramping up... I think it might have more to do with the fact that Musk won't be happy until they've got their first and second stages returning intact and landing on their own. Once their Grasshopper program has perfected that neat little trick I'd expect their launch business to pick up its pace considerably as 1) they could reuse the stages instead of building new ones every time and 2) SpaceX's launch cost would be considerably less resulting in a MUCH higher profit margin. Why launch something today and lose money when you can wait 3 or 4 years and make money?
rwinners
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2013
Well, the shoot and reuse program is still way unproven. And it will probably result in a big loss in payload.
Personally, I wonder when Space-X will get a try at using the remote docking system at the SS.