SpaceX has a momentous launch this week

Gladys Abbott
December 14, 2017

Meanwhile, the company flew Falcon 9 missions nearby, at Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, which SpaceX uses for commercial launching, together with Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This would also mark the first time NASA has used a previously-flown rocket for a resupply mission. With LC-40 now repaired, the company is moving its Falcon 9 launches back there, while Pad 39A is refitted for the upcoming Falcon Heavy launch, sometime in early 2018.

"SpaceX is taking additional time for the team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in 2nd stage fuel system", NASA officials wrote in a status update.

Location: Launch Complex 40.

"We're very comfortable that the risk posture on this vehicle is not significantly greater than a new booster", Kirk Shireman, NASA ISS program manager, said at a pre-launch press conference December 11. Late Tuesday, SpaceX pushed back the launch for the second day in a row, saying it needs to rid the second-stage fuel system of unwanted particles.

Wednesday's planned mission is SpaceX's 13th trip to supply the space station in a series of cargo runs that began in October 2012. It was set for 11:46 a.m. Tuesday from Space Launch Complex 40, which is the same pad where a Falcon 9 exploded a year ago.

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The Dragon spacecraft will be packed with almost 4,900 pounds of supplies and dozens of science experiments for the crew, including at least one study with ties to Florida - Made In Space Fiber Optics, which will analyze fiber optic filaments in microgravity and could lead to improved optical quality. The launch, set for Wednesday, will be the first from Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad since August 2016. The Dragon capsule made a space station shipment in 2015.

The fresh residents, led by Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov, will fly to the station inside the Russian Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft. "We've put in a lot of provisions to protect the equipment", he said. The company does not have immediate plans to do so, but the new pad could support a launch cadence as high as one mission per week.

Other experiments include Plant Gravity Perception, which aims to study how plants sense and respond to gravity; Glucowizzard, an implantable blood glucose monitor that will have its accuracy studied on the station; and Space Debris Sensor, an externally mounted unit that will spend up to three years monitoring small debris impacts into the ISS.

As the SpaceX Rocket launch has been postponed, this is the second launch delay in the last two days, and third generally for the SpaceX mission, called CRS-13.

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