Washington (STL.News) – NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting 7:35 p.m. EDT Sunday, July 21, for the launch of its 18th agency-contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Sunday with prelaunch events.
The Dragon spacecraft will deliver supplies and critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 60 and beyond. In addition to bringing research to station, the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk is carrying the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3), which, when installed on the space station, will provide the microgravity laboratory with two common ports enabling expanded opportunities for visiting vehicles, including new spacecraft designed to carry humans for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Dragon will dock to the space station Tuesday, July 23. When it arrives, NASA astronaut Nick Hague will grapple Dragon with NASA astronaut Christina Koch acting as a backup. NASA’s Andrew Morgan will assist the duo by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. The station crew will monitor Dragon vehicle functions during rendezvous. After Dragon capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Sunday, July 21
- 9 a.m. – Prelaunch news conference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with representatives from the agency’s International Space Station Program, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing.
- 12 p.m. – NASA Social What’s on Board science briefing from Kennedy. This briefing will highlight the following research:
- Pete Hasbrook, office manager for NASA’s International Space Station Program Science Office, will share an overview of the research being conducted aboard the space station and how it benefits exploration and humanity.
- Ken Shields, chief operating officer for the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, will discuss the lab’s work in advancing science in space, and in developing partnerships that drive industrialization through microgravity research.
- Gene Boland, chief scientist at Techshot, Inc., and Ken Church, chief executive officer at nScrypt, will discuss the BioFabrication Facility, which is designed to print organ-like tissues in microgravity, acting as a stepping- stone in a long-term plan to manufacture whole human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.
- George Papakonstantopoulos, principal scientist at Goodyear Tire, will discuss pushing the limits of silica fillers for tire applications. A better understanding of silica morphology and the relationship between silica structure and its properties could improve the silica design process, silica rubber formulation, and tire manufacturing and performance on the ground.
- Valentina Fossati from the New York Stem Foundation Research Institute and Andres Bratt-Leal from Aspen Neuroscience, will discuss the Space Tango – Induced Stem Cells investigation, where cells from patients with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis will be cultured on the space station to examine cell to cell interactions that occur in neurodegenerative disease.
- Rasha Hammamieh, principal investigator from the United States Army and Melissa Kacena, co-investigator at Indiana University School of Medicine, will discuss the Cell Science-02 investigation comparing the ability of two different bone inducing growth factors, one novel and one currently used in bone healing therapies, to stimulate growth, differentiation and related cellular functions of osteoblast in the microgravity environment.
- Jason August, manager of the International Space Station Mission Evaluation Room, will discuss the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3), where Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will dock in the near future when bringing astronauts to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
- 7 p.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 7:35 p.m. launch
Tuesday, July 23
- 5:30 a.m. – Dragon rendezvous, grapple and berthing. Capture is scheduled for approximately 7 a.m.
- 8:30 a.m. – Dragon installation to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station
Dragon will remain at the space station until Aug. 20, when the spacecraft will return to Earth with research and return cargo.