Weather Only Impediment to Sunday's SpaceX Launch
SpaceX and NASA are readying for the first operational launch of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on Sunday. The only worry at the moment is the weather.
The current forecast is only 60 percent for favorable weather conditions at launch time Sunday night -- 8:35 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The mission has an "instantaneous" launch window, which means it either goes at 8:35 pm EDT or must wait another day. The weather is expected to improve on Monday and Tuesday, which are backup days for the launch.
The Dragon spacecraft will take about 1,000 pounds of supplies to the ISS crew and return about 734 pounds of scientific materials -- such as the results from scientific experiments conducted onboard ISS -- plus 504 pounds of ISS hardware.
SpaceX's mission to the ISS in May was the final test to demonstrate that its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft could do the job. Sunday's flight is the first of 12 operational missions dubbed Commercial Resupply Missions (CRS); this is SpaceX CRS-1. Orbital Sciences is building a competing ISS cargo system, which has not yet launched. NASA also is buying CRS services from Orbital.
The Falcon 9 will launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, adjacent to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. If all goes well, it will berth to the ISS three days later.
NASA has a series of press conferences about the mission beginning tomorrow. See our calendar on the right menu of our home page for details.
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