From “ISSpresso” coffee machine to improving LCD screens, a variety of research is headed to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the sixth SpaceX contracted resupply mission set for delivery this month.
All systems are “go” for the launch of a SpaceX Dragon space capsule carrying NASA cargo to the ISS from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Tuesday at 2.03 am (IST) — a mission that will also include a novel reusable rocket landing attempt.
The Dragon spacecraft will deliver research equipment for physical science, biology, biotechnology, human research and a myriad of technology demonstrations to the ISS, the US space agency said in a statement.
These new and ongoing investigations continue to assist researchers in pursuing scientific breakthroughs not possible on the Earth.
It will be SpaceX’s sixth of 12 delivery missions for NASA under a $1.6 billion-contract for resupply flights.
The launch will also mark SpaceX’s third attempt to land a Falcon 9 rocket stage on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean.
During the first attempt in January, the returning Falcon 9 rocket ran out of hydraulic fluid early, crashing into the drone ship in a spectacular fireball.
A second attempt in February was thwarted by bad weather and high seas, forcing SpaceX to practice the landing over water and let the rocket stage splash into the ocean.
“The weather was terrible on the second attempt, and it looks like the weather is significantly better (this time): four to six feet swells,” said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president for mission assurance.
The rocket landing attempt is part of SpaceX’s reusable rocket research to lower the cost of spaceflight.
However, the rocket landing test is a secondary goal to a successful Dragon launch.
If all goes well, the Dragon capsule should arrive at the space station 38 hours after lift-off.
Astronauts on the ISS plan to capture the spacecraft with a robotic arm and attach it to a docking port.
Among Dragon’s primary goals this time is to help NASA catch up on resupplying the station after the explosion of an Orbital Sciences rocket last October.
NASA prefers to have six months’ supplies for the astronauts on board the station in case of hiccups with launch vehicles.
Right now the stock of food, water and related supplies is at roughly four or 4.5 months.(IANS)