The new launch from SpaceX is slated for 6:01 pm on July 24, 2019. This will be a cargo mission for NASA and they are bringing roughly 5,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. SpaceX will be using a Dragon cargo capsule, which has been to space successfully twice and will be launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This will mark the first time one Dragon capsule has gone two space three times.
There are some interesting items within the Dragon’s storage. Other than goodies for the astronauts, there are experiment components such as equipment for an experiment to culture cells from Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis patients. Another interesting item is a 3D printer that can create synthetic organ tissue. Riding on the back of the Dragon capsule is an International Docking Adaptor. This new part of the International Space Station dock will create two new commercial parking spots for new Boeing and SpaceX shuttles. This International Docking Adapter is the third one built but will be the second one to be installed. The first was finished in 2015 and destroyed when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket disintegrated. The second was taken to the International Space Station in 2016 on another Falcon 9 rocket and installed with a spacewalk. This new dock will create a new parking spot for shuttles during missions.
Bill Spetch is NASA’s deputy manager in charge of the International Space Station Transportation and says that this will be an important mission for the future operations of the International Space Station. The launch will be one of the last SpaceX missions for NASA under their resupply contract. This is the 18th cargo mission of the required 20 cargo missions under the contract. The 19th and 20th missions will use Dragon capsules as well. NASA has already given SpaceX a second contract that is good through 2024. SpaceX will be switching to a new Dragon capsule, which has more in common with the Crew Dragon that will be transporting NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. Currently, Dragon capsules are pulled into the International Space Station by the robotic arm. The new version will be able to dock at the station on its own.
The Dragon capsule has been to space twice before and most of the Falcon 9 rockets used on this launch have flown to space as well. The goal is to have the Falcon 9 rocket land on the concrete launch pad during the launch. The rocket must take off at the proper time or the mission will have to be postponed due to the tight window. The launch has only a 30 percent chance of the weather being clear. The launch was delayed a day due to weather. The launch on the SpaceX launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, was successful on July 25th. The Dragon capsule entered orbit and the Falcon 9 rockets mostly touched down like planned and the Dragon capsule will arrive at the International Space Station on July 27th.