SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Dragon CRS-17 mission cargo, due for the International Space Station. The mission was initially scheduled for April. It had been postponed several times due to a glitch.
SpaceX announced that the mission was postponed “due to an electrical issue”. If all goes according to plan, the rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 08:48 SAST on Saturday, 4 May.
This will mark the Falcon 9’s seventeenth mission to the International Space Station. The Dragon Cargo capsule will be carrying a resupply mission – some 5 500 pounds of cargo.
Fingers crossed that Falcon 9 gets off the ground on Saturday. It not, we can expect to view launch on 12 or 13 May. This is due to the previously planned weeklong stand-down of the Eastern Range at the Cape Canaveral centre.
An interesting payload
One of the pieces of equipment on board will be the Photobioreactor. It will be used to test the cultivation of micro-algae to serve as a source of both food and oxygen on the International Space Station.
In addition, the cargo will also contain lung and bone marrow chips, cartilage and bone chips, and a chip that simulates the blood-brain barrier. Astronauts will use it to monitor the reaction of simulated organs in space.
Finally, the capsule also contains the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 instrument. It will be attached to the ISS’s exterior by means of a robotic arm.
Amy Thompson from Space.com reports that scientists will use it to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide, as well as map sources and sinks of the gas.
Falcon 9 rocket: Stats for nerds
The Falcon 9 rocket has in been commission since 2012, and is the Falcon Heavy’s predecessor. The Falcon 9 will carry approximately 53 000 kilograms of cargo into space throughout its lifetime.
The two-stage-to-orbit rocket has a mass of 541 300 kilograms. It can carry up to 22 800 kilograms of cargo in low Earth orbit, or up to 8 300 kilograms in geostationary transfer orbit.
Furthermore, the Falcon 9’s first stage has nine Merlin engines with a burn time of 162 seconds. In addition, the second stage has only one engine which ignites after stage separation. It has a burn time of 397 seconds.
Watch: Falcon 9 CRS-17 launch mission live stream
Take note, liftoff scheduled for 08:48 South African Standard Time (SAST) on Saturday 4 May.