February 15, 2013
March 1st Target Launch Date For Next SpaceX Resupply Mission To The ISS
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Last year, SpaceX's Dragon capsule made history after earning itself a contract to resupply the space station upon a successful docking mission.
NASA said the next Dragon launch is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. eastern time, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Dragon capsule will be filled up with about 1,200 pounds of supplies for the crew, as well as experiments to be conducted in zero gravity.
After launch, on March 2, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA will be using the International Space Station's robot arm to grapple the Dragon and bring it on in to rendezvous with the orbiting laboratory.
NASA has scheduled the SpaceX spacecraft to come back to Earth on March 25, where it will be splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. Dragon will not be coming back empty handed from space, as it will be bringing over 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment back with it.
Last October, Dragon capsule completed its first resupply mission to the International Space Station, and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean October 29. The capsule arrived at the station on October 10, after launching October 7 from Cape Canaveral.
The mission was seen as the first example of America's capability to deliver and return cargo to the space station since the retirement of the space shuttle program. Eventually, the Dragon capsule will be converted into a spacecraft that can ferry astronauts to space and back. Until that day, NASA will be relying on Russia for its rides to the ISS.
The capsule made its first rendezvous with the space station at the end of May last year. This mission was just to test the abilities of the spacecraft, and see whether SpaceX had what it takes to resupply its astronauts aboard the orbiting outpost. Once this mission became successful, SpaceX earned itself a long contract from NASA, good for 12 cargo resupply missions.