The Falcon 9 rocket is ready to launch the CRS-29 mission, sending more than 6,500 pounds of cargo and science experiments to the International Space Station. Image: SpaceX/NASA Update 21:10 EST (0210 UTC): Successful separation liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket and Cargo Dragon.
Rodents, water filters and a laser relay are among the 6,500 pounds of science and equipment that will be launched to the International Space Station on Thursday night. It is planned that at 8:28 p.m. EST (November 10 at 0128 UTC) a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SpaceX Cargo Dragon is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
This will be SpaceX’s ninth mission under the current Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS). The first 20 missions were flown under an initial supply services contract.
The weather nearing launch is about ideal. Patrick Air Force Base’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 95 percent chance. favorable upward prospects. If needed, the 24-hour backup option at 20:05 EST (0105 UTC) is 90 percent favorable.
After liftoff from the pad at LC-39A, Falcon 9 will fly on a northeast trajectory to catch up with the ISS.
Approximately seven and a half minutes after liftoff, the first stage booster B1081 will touch down at Landing Zone 1. This will be the second flight of this booster, following the launch of the Crew-7 mission to the ISS earlier this year.
The Cargo Dragon for the CRS-29 mission is one of three in SpaceX’s fleet. Named C211, it is also making its second flight after serving on the CRS-26 mission a year ago.
The mission comes in the same month as the 25th anniversary of the launch of Zarya, the first module of the ISS. It was designed by NASA but built and launched by Russia.
“It’s incredible to look back over the past 25 years and see how the space station has grown, how international partnerships have flourished and how much research we’ve done on the vehicle,” Dana Weigel, ISS deputy program manager, said in a press release. earlier this week.
“Today, 273 people from 21 countries visited the International Space Station, which is quite impressive.
Demonstration of connections
Among the experiments being launched on the ISS for this mission is a continuation of NASA’s optical communications. The agency is shipping a piece of equipment called the ILLUMA-T, or LCRD Integrated Low Earth Orbit User Totem and Amplifier Terminal.
It will work in conjunction with the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD), which will be held in 2021. December. was launched as a satellite by the US Department of Defense. This satellite, Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6), is geostationary. Earth’s orbit, which means it remains in a stable position relative to Earth.
“We will be able to send data from the ISS at 1.2 gigabits per second from the LCRD and back to the ground station.” All of this will be done using laser pointers,” said Zachary Gonnsen, ILLUMA-T Principal Systems Engineer.
Normally, data is sent from space to Earth and vice versa using radio frequencies. Although sending data through a laser system does not physically move data faster, more data can be sent at once.
“I think you’re driving down the road at 80 miles an hour and you have a car with one person and there’s a bus with 80 people next to you. You both arrive at your destination at the same time, but the bus takes 80 people there and you only have one,” Gonnsen said. “So you can think of it as data and bits. That’s basically what we’re doing here.”
After Dragon docks with the ISS, no astronauts will be needed to deploy the ILLUMA-T payload to the station during a spacewalk. Gonnsen said this will be done using robotic arms that the station has on the outside.
The ILLUMA-T payload was stored in the trunk of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft prior to the CRS-29 mission. Image: SpaceX “The Canadarm will actually reach the Dragon trunk where the ILLUMA-T is mounted, pull us out, and we’ll do the handoff between the Canadarm and the Japanese robotic arm,” Gonnsen said. “And then the Japanese arm will actually lead us into our position.”
The mission is scheduled to nominally last six months, but could be extended if the technology proves to be correct.
Commercial science is flying again
In addition to ILLUMA-T and other NASA-led experiments, 25 scientific payloads supported by the ISS National Laboratory will also fly.
One is from Redwire Space in Jacksonville, Florida. PIL-BOX-01 is a joint mission with Eli Lilly and Company that will conduct three experiments investigating treatments for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Redwire is also sending material for an upcoming bioprinting experiment that will likely be carried out during the Crew-8 mission, which will begin no earlier than mid-February. It will print heart tissue using the company’s BioFabrication Facility (BFF).
Another experiment is led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. It will study the effects of microgravity on brain organoids derived from stem cells, which are described as “three-dimensional models of cells that reflect aspects of the human brain.”
This experiment will help to better understand the processes that cause accelerated aging in space.