For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER/CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – A fabulous fiery sunset greeted the final SpaceX Dragon 1 spacecraft after it went vertical atop the ‘fight-proven’ Falcon 9 that will hurl it to orbit on a NASA contracted cargo launch to the International Space Station (ISS) Friday night, March 6 from the Florida Space Coast.
The weather outlook is decent at this time.
The SpaceX and NASA teams are now targeting liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon CRS-20 cargo ship at 11:49 p.m. EST Friday (0449 GMT Saturday) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Enjoy our Space UpClose photos of the beautiful fiery sunset scene.
You can watch the launch live on NASA TV starting about 20 minutes before liftoff at 1130 PM ET
SpaceX informed that this cargo Dragon flew twice before on the CRS-10 and CRS-16 missions. And released a photo of the Dragon showing the two logos for the two prior missions.
This is also the 3rd cargo Dragon to fly 3 missions – the maximum for which they are certified – on what counts as the final mission of the first generation Dragon 1 vessel which has been flying to the ISS since 2012.
The Dragon 1 will be replaced by the more advanced Dragon 2 to be used for both cargo and crew flights for astronauts.
The SpaceX Dragon CRS-20 window is ‘instantaneous’ meaning any delay for weather or technical reasons forces a minimum 1 day scrub.
The CRS-20 launch will be the 5th of the year for SpaceX and the first to the ISS.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster is also recycled having flown previously on the CRS-19 mission in Dec. 2019.
SpaceX will attempt to recover and soft land the Falcon 9 first stage back on land at Landing Zone-1 at Cape Canaveral about 8 and a half minutes after liftoff.
Dragon CRS-20 marks SpaceX’s 20th contracted cargo mission to the space station under the original commercial resupply services (CRS) contract with NASA.
The prior CRS-19 resupply flight successfully flew in Dec 2019 from pad 40.
The two stage Falcon 9/Dragon rocket stands about 213-feet (65-meters) tall.
The 20-foot high, 12-foot-diameter Dragon CRS-19 vessel is jam packed with more than 5500 pounds (2500 kilograms) of science experiments, research hardware, space parts, food water, clothing and more supplies for the three person Expedition 62 crew.
The research gear will support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 62 and 63 and beyond.
Experiments include the Generation of Cardiomyocytes from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (MVP Cell-03) experiment to study the generation of specialized heart muscle cells for use in research and clinical applications.
Also 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.
Another experiment is the 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.
In addition to bringing research to station, the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk will transport the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Bartolomeo, a new commercial research platform set to be installed on the exterior of the orbiting laboratory’s Columbus module .
SpaceX was awarded an approximately $3.1 Billion contract from NASA to launch 20 Dragon cargo missions to the orbiting outpost through 2019 under the Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) agreement that was amended in 2015 and increased from an original value of $1.6 Billion.
NASA also awarded a CRS contract to Northrop Grumman that has likewise been increased.
Both companies also won new cargo mission contracts under the Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS-2) agreement awarded last year.
The path to launch was cleared following a successful static fire test today of the recycled Falcon 9 rocket at 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) Sunday, March 1.
SpaceX engineers briefly ignited all 9 engines on their ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 first stage booster for a hold down static fire test at Space Launch Complex-40 generating 1.7 million pounds of thrust to affirm its readiness for Friday’s launch.
My static fire photos were also featured at WKMG CBS 6 TV News Orlando
Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of SpaceX CRS-20 as well as upcoming and recent ULA and SpaceX launches including Crew and Cargo Dragon, Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort and Starlink at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
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
Ken has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers