The routine resupply mission undertaken by SpaceX will complete its 21st commercial journey to the International Space Station on Saturday. The cargo, which is meant for the dozens of science and research investigations of NASA, will hike a ride on the upgraded Dragon spacecraft. It will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A to the ISS atop the Falcon 9 rocket.
The upgraded Cargo Dragon 2 could stay at the space station for 75 days and can carry double the amount of powered cargo. NASA and SpaceX want the launch to take place at 11:39 a.m. ET on December 5; however, this may differ due to the unpredictability of the weather.
“This morning, we did a mission management team meeting, and we had a unanimous go for this launch and docking,” said Kenny Todd, deputy program manager of NASA’s International Space Station Program Office.
He further added, “We’re excited to get on with it; we’ll see how things play out over the next couple of days, but hopefully by the middle of the week, we’ll have a Dragon on the way, if not already attached (to the station).”
The launch would mark the third year in a row SpaceX has launched a commercial resupply mission for NASA. The cargo includes equipment for research purposes, which aims to monitor the effects of microgravity on the brain, count white blood cells in space, and examine the changes in hearts using tissue chips.
The Dragon spacecraft has also undertaken other tasks as well. Once it reaches the ISS, it will stay there for about the duration of one month attached to the ISS before making its odyssey to Earth with research and return cargo.
The Atlantic Ocean is the bed for the Dragon spacecraft’s splashdown. Autonomous docking is set for Dec. 6 with NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover monitoring operations.