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.
SpaceX called off a launch attempt on Tuesday due to bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center, delaying the start of a resupply mission to the International Space Station until Saturday.
The 26th SpaceX cargo mission to the space station, dubbed CRS-26, will deliver approximately 7,700 pounds (3.5 tons) of supplies, experiments and hardware to the complex.
There was only a 30% chance of good weather at Kennedy Space Center for an immediate launch opportunity at 3:54 p.m. EST (2054 GMT). Despite light rain and low cloud cover, SpaceX began loading propellants into the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket in the hope that the weather would improve in time for launch. But it didn’t, and SpaceX’s launch director announced a scrub for the countdown a few minutes before launch time.
Because the Dragon spacecraft has a heat shield to protect it during reentry at the end of the mission, the mission cannot be launched during a rainstorm because water droplets can damage the capsule’s thermal protection system.
The next launch opportunity is scheduled for Saturday at 2:20 PM EST (1920 GMT). SpaceX cannot launch the cargo mission around Thanksgiving, a time of busy travel in the United States, because the Federal Aviation Administration wants to ensure that the airspace is clear for commercial air traffic.
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 PM EST (1920 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
- 186th Falcon 9 rocket launch since 2010
- 195th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
- 1st launch of Falcon 9 booster B1076
- 1st flight of Dragon capsule C211
- 159th 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
- 52nd Falcon 9 launch of 2022
- 53rd SpaceX launch in 2022
- 51st orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022
Email the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.