Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX next resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for Friday, March 6 at 11:50 p.m. EST. This launch will be the 20th mission for SpaceX under their Commercial Resupply Cargo Services contract with NASA. The mission is called CRS-20, it will be the final resupply mission under phase 1 of SpaceX's commercial resupply contract. A Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo spacecraft from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NASA previously announced March 2nd would be the CRS-20 mission date but during preflight inspections SpaceX identified a valve motor on the Falcon 9's second stage engine was malfunctioning. The company decided to utilize a new second stage that is already at Cape Canaveral, and is working optimally for flight. The updated target launch date of March 6 allows engineers to perform final checkouts.
The next @SpaceX resupply mission to @Space_Station is now scheduled for Fri., March 6 at 11:50pm ET. The #Dragon spacecraft will deliver over 5,600 pounds of cargo and supplies. More: https://t.co/JdjYueNFbO— NASA (@NASA) February 26, 2020
About the @ISS_Research on board: https://t.co/db981glRJY pic.twitter.com/FL9SP1Fywn
SpaceX will be tasked to deliver a variety of science equipment to astronauts who live and work on the orbiting ISS laboratory. The cargo Dragon will be filled with over 5,600 pounds of cargo. Including hardware, supplies for the Expedition 62 astronaut crew and scientific research equipment to conduct experiments in the orbiting laboratory. Some of the science experiments that will be transported by Dragon to the ISS lab are: an experiment on particle foam manufacturing, a project to study water droplet formation, and research of the human intestine among other investigations.
SPACEX CRS-20 MISSION BADGE
Usually, upon arrival to the station the Dragon spacecraft remains parked in place, attached to the space station for about 30 days. Then the craft is sent back to Earth with the results of the scientific research conducted aboard the ISS. Besides the Russian Soyuz crew capsule, Dragon is the only currently operating spacecraft that is capable of surviving the fiery re-entry through Earth's atmosphere from space. Dragon allows for the return of critical scientific research for researchers in about 48 hours from splashdown, which enables a safe return for important materials. For example, previous missions have involved returning 40 mice that were part of an experiment to study the effects of microgravity inside the space station. Dragon brought all mice alive, allowing scientists to further investigate the effects of microgravity in the muscles, brain, eyes, and blood vessels.
The Dragon spacecraft will fly a third time to space during the CRS-20 mission. Each Dragon cargo craft is certified to fly 3 times before retirement. When it’s successor, the Dragon 2 spacecraft, also known as Crew Dragon, launches in late 2020, each craft will be certified to perform up to 5 cargo flights to the space station before retirement. Once Dragon is retired, Crew Dragon is contracted to carry out a minimum of 6 missions under phase 2 of SpaceX's resupply services contract with NASA.
The upcoming CRS-20 mission is currently the last scheduled flight of the original Dragon cargo spacecraft. Dragon will be retired soon and replaced with an upgraded version that will be capable of transporting a 7 passenger crew and cargo to the space station.