On Friday, NASA announced that the first of 12 spaceflights by SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station will launch on October 7 at 8:35 p.m. EDT, with backup opportunities on October 8 and 9. The contract was granted to SpaceX following a successful demonstration in May. This Dragon capsule will be carried on a Falcon 9 rocket, just like the demonstration.
The Dragon will be filled with 450 kilograms of supplies. This includes critical materials to support the 166 scientific investigations planned for the station’s Expedition 33 crew, including 63 new investigations. The Dragon will return about 333 kilograms of scientific materials, including results from human research, biotechnology, materials and educational experiments, as well as about 229 kilograms of hardware from the space station.
The Falcon 9 is a two stage, liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) powered launch vehicle. It uses the same engines, structural architecture, avionics, and launch system that the Falcon 1, another SpaceX rocket, uses. The rocket is 54.9 meters tall and 3.6 meters in diameter, and is capable of producing 4.94 meganewtons of thrust in a vacuum. It is powered by nine Merlin engines, which were developed internally at SpaceX. The Merlin engine is the most powerful gas generator cycle kerosene engine ever built, capable of producing a vacuum specific impulse of 304 seconds.
SpaceX is a space transport company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was established in 2002 by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal and the Zip2 Corporation. It employs approximately 1,800 people.
Media who want to attend the pre-launch events, including the launch pad photo opportunity, pre-launch news conference and launch, must request accreditation online at https://media.ksc.nasa.gov. The deadline for U.S. media to apply for accreditation is October 3. The deadline has passed for international news media to apply.