Weather Promising for Easter Monday SpaceX Launch of Recycled Falcon 9 and Dragon Resupply Ship to Space Station

Venting of oxygen propellant
venting from SpaceX Falcon 9 second stage at pad 40 in the final minutes before
Dec. 17, 2017 liftoff from
Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station,
Florida to the ISS on NASA contracted CRS-13 resupply mission. The
CRS-14 cargo mission is slated for launch on April 2, 2018.  Credit: 
Ken
Kremer
/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer    Space UpClose 
   30 March 2018

KENNEDY
SPACE CENTER, FL –  The weather outlook
is rather promising for the Easter Monday launch of the SpaceX’s 14th
resupply mission loaded with
over 2.5 tons of science and supplies to the International
Space Station on April 2.

NASA has also approved the use of ‘flight proven’ hardware
for both the Falcon 9 first stage and Dragon cargo ship on the same mission for
only the second time. 

Blastoff of the ‘used’ SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon CRS-14 commercial
cargo freighter is now slated for
4:30 p.m. EDT Monday, April 2 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

U.S.
Air Force meteorologists with the 45th Space Wing
Weather Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base Air Force are projecting very good weather
with an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time. The primary
concerns are for flight through precipitation and the cumulous cloud rule.



In case of a
delay for any reason technical or weather, the weather forecast remains at 80 percent
favorable for the 24 hour scrub turnaround day on Tuesday, April 3.


This great news
will delight the hordes of tourists gathered from across the globe to watch the
launch over the spring break and coincidental religious holidays this weekend.



The path to launch was cleared following the
successful hold down static fire test of the first stage at pad 40 on
Wednesday, March 28.

“Static fire test of Falcon 9
complete—targeting April 2 launch from Pad 40 in Florida for Dragon’s
fourteenth mission to the
@Space_Station,” SpaceX tweeted following the March
test.

SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage stands erect at pad 40 during
static test fire campaign ahead of launch, in this view from Titusville. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

During the engine test all nine Merlin 1D first stage
engines were ignited for several seconds.

During Wednesday’s hold down static
fire test, the rocket’s first and second stages are fueled with liquid oxygen
and RP-1 propellants like an actual launch, and a simulated countdown is
carried out to the point of a brief engine ignition.  

The hold
down engine test with the erected Falcon 9 rocket involved the ignition of all
nine Merlin 1D first stage engines generating some 1.7 million pounds of thrust
at pad 40 while the two stage rocket was restrained on the pad – minus the Dragon
payload. 

This static fire test appeared to
last for perhaps seven seconds or more compared to a prior runs of about three
seconds.

The longer engine firing was enabled
by significant upgrades to the pad as part of the pad 40 rebuilding process, as
previously explained by
Muratore, Director of Space Launch Complex 40, during a media
briefing.

The test is routinely conducted by
SpaceX engineers to confirm the rockets readiness to launch.

The rocket was lowered the next day and returned to the pad
40 hanger to attach the Dragon spacecraft.

In another major milestone for
only the second time in the history of SpaceX’s commercial resupply services
(CRS) contract for NASA, both the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon resupply ship are
reused vehicles that previously flew on missions to space and were recovered
and recycled.



The Dragon was previously used during the CRS-8 mission and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and
the Falcon 9 first stage was recycled from the CRS-12 mission and touched down softly and safely at LZ-1 at the Cape.









Following four successful SpaceX Dragon liftoffs in 2017,
the CRS-14 mission counts as the first of several planned for 2018.

About 10 minutes
after launch, Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit, at which point it will
deploys its solar arrays and begins a carefully choreographed series of
thruster firings to reach the International
Space Station
.

The
20-foot high, 12-foot-diameter Dragon CRS-14 vessel
will carry about 5,800
pounds of science experiments, research gear, crew supplies and hardware
to the orbiting outpost and stay about 4
weeks.


Grapple and berthing to the space station is targeted for
April 4. Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Norishege Kanai of the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency, backed up by NASA astronaut Scott Tingle,
will supervise the operation of the Canadarm2 robotic arm for Dragon’s capture.
After Dragon capture, ground commands will be sent from mission control in
Houston for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the
station’s Harmony module.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX
CRS-14, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more
space and mission
reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer –
ken
at kenkremer.com

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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