The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Saturday, Sept. 20, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station’s partners and managers.
The company's Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft loaded with more than 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and supplies, will lift off at 2:16 a.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 1:15 a.m. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is Sunday, Sept. 21 at approximately 1:53 a.m.
The mission, designated SpaceX CRS-4, is the fourth of 12 SpaceX flights NASA contracted with the company to resupply the space station. It will be the fifth trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory.
The spacecraft’s 2.5 tons of supplies, science experiments, and technology demonstrations includes critical materials to support 255 science and research investigations that will occur during the station's Expeditions 41 and 42.
Science payloads include the ISS-Rapid Scatterometer to monitor ocean surface wind speed and direction; new biomedical hardware that will help facilitate prolonged biological studies of rodents in microgravity; and a study of a small flowering plant related to cabbage that allows scientists to study plant growth and adaptations in space.
New technology demonstrations aboard the Dragon spacecraft include the Special Purpose Inexpensive Satellite, or SpinSat , to test how a small satellite moves and positions itself in space using new thruster technology and the 3-D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration, the first 3-D printer in space.
NASA will host a series of prelaunch news conferences Thursday, Sept. 18 and Friday, Sept. 19 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency's website.
During panel discussions Sept. 18 at 9, 10, and 11 a.m., scientists and researchers will discuss the various science and research studies, including RapidScat, 3-D printing in Zero-G, technology to measure bone density, and model organism research using rodents, fruit flies and plants.
NASA senior leaders will host a briefing Sept. 19 at 9 a.m., followed by a prelaunch news
conference at 10 a.m. at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All these briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency's website. A post-launch briefing will be held approximately 90 minutes after launch.
If launch occurs Sept. 20, NASA TV will provide live coverage Monday, Sept. 22, of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 5:30 a.m. with grapple at approximately 7:30 a.m. Berthing coverage begins at 9:30 a.m.
The Dragon will remain attached to the space station's Harmony module for more than four weeks and then splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California with almost two tons of experiment samples and equipment returning from the station.
For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA T
V coverage items, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1wmPl45.
For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.
For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog and more information about the mission, visit:
For more information about the International Space Station, research in low-Earth orbit, NASA's commercial space programs and the future of American spaceflight, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration.