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Falcon 9 and Dragon Launching to Space Station

NASA and SpaceX have confirmed Friday, April 18 for the next launch attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket to send the Dragon spacecraft on the company's third commercial resupply mission and fourth visit to the space station. Launch is scheduled for 3:25 p.m. EDT. The launch will be webcast live at www.spacex.com/webcast beginning at 2:45 p.m.

A launch on Friday results in a rendezvous with the space station on Sunday, April 20 and a grapple at 7:14 a.m.

During Monday’s launch attempt, preflight checks detected that a helium valve in the stage separation pneumatic system was not holding the right pressure. This meant that the stage separation pistons would be reliant on a backup check valve.

No issue was detected with the backup valve and a flight would likely have been successful, but SpaceX policy is not to launch with any known anomalies. We have brought the vehicle back to horizontal and are replacing the faulty valve, as well as inspecting the whole system for anything that may have contributed to the valve not working as designed.

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On the afternoon of Monday, April 14, SpaceX is set to launch its third Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are targeted to launch at 4:48 pm EDT from SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch will be webcast live at www.spacex.com/webcast.

Falcon 9 in SpaceX’s hangar at Cape Canaveral

Weeks prior to launch, Falcon 9 and Dragon arrived at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral facility, where they have been processed and mated together in the hangar.

Dragon is rotated to be mated with Falcon 9Falcon 9 and Dragon are mated together

For this resupply mission, Dragon’s pressurized capsule and unpressurized trunk will be filled with nearly 5,000 lbs of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to support more than 150 science investigations planned for ISS Expeditions 39 and 40.

Engineers load cargo into Dragon’s pressurized section

Falcon 9 and Dragon completed a successful static fire on Saturday March 8, firing Falcon 9’s 9 first stage engines for 2 seconds while the vehicle was held down to the pad. This is the last major test prior to launch.

Falcon 9 and Dragon conduct successful static fire at LC-40

If all goes as planned, Dragon will arrive at station on Wednesday, April 16, when it will be grappled and berthed to the complex for an expected four-week visit. Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth mid-May for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of southern California. Dragon is the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth, including experiments.

Official CRS-3 mission patch

 

For live mission updates, follow:

www.spacex.com/webcast

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