Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch SpaceX’s 26th resupply mission to the International Space Station. follow us on Twitter.
After a launch attempt was canceled earlier this week due to inclement weather, SpaceX will again attempt Saturday to send a Dragon cargo pod to the International Space Station carrying nearly four tons of supplies and experiments. The launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. EST (1920 GMT).
SpaceX called off the first launch attempt for the resupply mission on Tuesday due to rainfall and cloud cover at the Florida spaceport. The Falcon 9 rocket remained on the launch pad at Kennedy pending the next launch opportunity Saturday.
SpaceX was unable to launch the cargo mission around Thanksgiving, a time of busy travel in the United States, because the Federal Aviation Administration wanted to ensure that the airspace was clear for commercial air traffic.
There is a 70% chance of favorable weather for Saturday’s launch attempt. The main weather problems are rain showers and cumulus clouds.
Assuming the Dragon capsule lifts off Saturday, it will dock at the Harmony module on the International Space Station at 7:30 a.m. EST (1230 GMT) on Sunday. Astronauts on the space station open hatches and begin unpacking cargo into the pressurized compartment of the Dragon spacecraft.
When it takes off, the Falcon 9 rocket will head northeast from Kennedy, powered by nine Merlin engines generating 1.7 million pounds of thrust. The rocket will shut down its first stage booster about two and a half minutes into the mission, allowing the booster to descend to land on a drone ship about 180 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean, about seven and a half hours. half a minute after launch.
The booster, tail number B1076, makes its first flight into space on the CRS-26 mission. The Dragon capsule, also brand new, will deploy from the Falcon 9 upper stage about 12 minutes after launch to begin the journey to the International Space Station.
Stationed in a firing room at a launch control center on Kennedy, the SpaceX launch team will begin loading supercooled, compressed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the 215-foot-tall (65 meters) Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.
In the last half hour of the countdown, helium propellant will also flow into the rocket. In the last seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines are thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems will also be configured for launch.
After docking the new cargo pod, astronauts inside the space station will open hatches and unpack supplies, experiments and other equipment stowed in the pressurized compartment of the Dragon spacecraft. At the end of the mission, the reusable capsule will detach from the station and begin a parachute-assisted landing off the Florida coast with several tons of cargo in early January.
The payloads aboard the Dragon capsule include two new ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays, or iROSA units, to upgrade the space station’s power system. Astronauts on the station will venture outside the complex next week to help install and deploy the new roll-out arrays, which will boost the power produced by the station’s original solar panels. The existing solar panel wings were launched between 2000 and 2009 on space shuttle missions.
The solar panels are rolled up like yoga mats during launch. The space station’s robotic arm removes the coils from their mounting posts in the aft payload bay of the Dragon spacecraft and moves them to mounting points on the left and right sides of the lab’s solar beam.
The roll-out solar panels will open to partially cover the existing arrays. This pair of iROSA units follows the launch of the first two in 2021. The final two deployable solar arrays will launch next year on a SpaceX resupply mission.
Other payloads on the CRS-26 mission include experiments to test the growth of dwarf tomatoes on the space station, a portable handheld microscope that will help astronauts collect medical images of their own blood samples, and a technology demonstration to collect data on the construction of flexible structures in space.
Read more details in our mission sample story.
ROCKET SHIP: Falcon 9 (B1076.1)
LOAD CAPACITY: Cargo Dragon (CRS-26)
LAUNCH SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
LAUNCH DATE: November 26, 2022
LAUNCH TIME: 2:20:42 PM EST (1920:42 GMT)
WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of upper-level wind; Low risk of adverse booster recovery conditions
BOOSTER RECOVERY: Drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” east of Jacksonville, Florida
START AZIMUTH: Northeast
GOAL JOB: 118 miles by 130 miles (190 kilometers by 210 kilometers), 51.6 degrees incline
- T+00:00: Launch
- T+01:12: Maximum Aerodynamic Pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:27: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
- T+02:30: Stair separation
- T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition
- T+02:42: First stage boost backburn ignition (three engines)
- T+03:15: First stage boost back burn cutoff
- T+05:45: Step-in ignition first stage (three engines)
- T+05:59: First stage burn
- T+07:06: Fire ignition first stage landing (one engine)
- T+07:33: First stage landing
- T+08:37: Engine cut second stage (SECO 1)
- T+11:49: Cargo Dragon separation
- 187th Falcon 9 rocket launch since 2010
- 196th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
- 1st launch of Falcon 9 booster B1076
- 1st flight of Dragon capsule C211
- 160th Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
- 57th SpaceX launch from pad 39A
- 151st general launch from pad 39A
- 6th launch of an upgraded Cargo Dragon vehicle
- 26th SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station
- 53rd Falcon 9 launch of 2022
- 54th SpaceX launch in 2022
- 52nd launch attempt into orbit from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.