NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting 11:50 p.m. EST Friday, March 6, for the launch of its 20th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage of the launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website with prelaunch events Thursday, March 5 and March 6.
The NASA-contracted Dragon spacecraft will be filled with supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will take place during Expeditions 62 and 63. In addition to bringing research to station, the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk will transport ESA’s (European Space Agency) Bartolomeo, a new commercial research platform set to be installed on the exterior of the orbiting laboratory.
Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit about 10 minutes after launch. It will then deploy its solar arrays and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. When it arrives March 9, Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir of NASA will grapple Dragon, with Andrew Morgan of NASA acting as a backup. The station crew will monitor Dragon functions during rendezvous. After Dragon’s capture, mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Thursday, March 5
- 3 p.m. – NASA Social, What’s on Board science briefing from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Media have the opportunity to call in for this event only. Media will have one-on-one, in person opportunities to speak with principal investigators for payloads on this mission at the Kennedy Press Site at 3 p.m. Friday. Media who would like to call in for the What’s on Board science briefing should phone Kennedy’s NASA News Center at 321-867-2468 by 2 p.m. Thursday for dial-in information. This briefing will highlight the following research:
- Jennifer Buchli, deputy chief scientist for NASA’s International Space Station Program Science Office, will share an overview of the research being conducted aboard the space station and how it benefits exploration and humanity.
- Michael Roberts, interim chief scientist for the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, will discuss the lab’s work in advancing science in space, and in developing partnerships that drive industrialization through microgravity research.
- Bill Corely, director of business development for Airbus Defence and Space, and Bartolomeo Project Manager Andreas Schütte, will discuss the new external science platform, Bartolomeo.
- Chunhui Xu, associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine, and principal investigator for the Generation of Cardiomyocytes from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (MVP Cell-03) experiment, will discuss the study on the generation of specialized heart muscle cells for use in research and clinical applications. Chief Scientist of Techshot, Gene Boland, will share how the Multi-use Variable-g Platform will facilitate this experiment.
- Paul Patton, senior manager, front end innovation and regulatory, for Delta Faucet, and Garry Marty, principal product engineer for Delta Faucet, will discuss the Droplet Formation Study, which evaluates water droplet formation and water flow of Delta Faucet’s H2Okinetic showerhead technology. This research in microgravity could help improve the technology, creating better performance and improved user experience while conserving water and energy.
- Aaron Beeler, professor of medicinal chemistry at Boston University and principal investigator, and Matthew Mailloux, co-investigator, will discuss Flow Chemistry Platform for Synthetic Reactions on ISS, which will study the effects of microgravity on chemical reactions, as a first step toward on-demand chemical synthesis on the space station.
Friday, March 6
- 4 p.m. – Prelaunch news conference from Kennedy with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program, SpaceX, and the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing. Media who would like to call in for the prelaunch news conference should phone the NASA News Center at 321-867-2468 by 3 p.m., for dial-in information. Participants include:
- Joel Montalbano, deputy manager for International Space Station Program
- Jennifer Buchli, deputy chief scientist for International Space Station Program
- Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX
- Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing
- 11:30 p.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 11:50 p.m., launch.
Monday, March 9
- 4:30 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins of Dragon arrival to the station and capture. Capture is scheduled for approximately 6 a.m.
- 7:30 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins of Dragon installation to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station
Dragon will remain at the space station for about four weeks, after which the spacecraft will return to Earth with research and cargo.