SpaceX launches 3 tons of cargo to International Space Station

SpaceX launches 3 tons of cargo to International Space Station

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Putting on a spectacular show, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a Dragon cargo ship into orbit Tuesday night, carrying 6,300 pounds of research equipment, crew supplies, spare parts and other hardware on a two-day flight to the Station. International Space.

The first stage booster for the Falcon 9, which made its seventh flight, came to life at 8:30 p.m. scores of miles around.

Launched directly into the plane of the space station’s orbit, the booster rocketed on a northeasterly trajectory paralleling the east coast of the United States, dimming to an ember-like smudge as it accelerated away from Florida and coming out of the lower atmosphere.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket put on a spectacular show in the night sky on March 14, 2023, as it propelled a Dragon cargo spacecraft into orbit with three tons of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station.  The docking is scheduled for early March 16.  / Credit: NASA/SpaceX

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket put on a spectacular show in the night sky on March 14, 2023, as it propelled a Dragon cargo spacecraft into orbit with three tons of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station. The docking is scheduled for early March 16. / Credit: NASA/SpaceX

Two and a half minutes after launch, the first stage’s nine Merlin engines shut down, the stage dropped, and flight continued on power from the second stage’s single engine.

Five minutes later, the first stage landed on an offshore landing craft. A minute after that, the second stage entered its planned orbit. The Dragon freighter was then released to fly on its own.

It was SpaceX’s 17th launch. so far this year and the 27th overall under contract with NASA to deliver supplies and equipment to the space station.

“Dragon is carrying just under 6,300 pounds of cargo, including crew supplies, scientific research, spacewalking equipment and vehicle hardware,” said Phil Dempsey, space station transportation integration manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“In addition, the crew requested fresh fruit and chilled cheeses,” added Dempsey. “So on board there are apples, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, cherry tomatoes, as well as a few different cheeses.”

But the primary goal of the mission is to enable continued research aboard the outpost, Dempsey said, and “we hope that the crew aboard the space station will have new research and scientific investigations available to work on.”

Approaching the lab complex from behind and below, Dragon is expected to catch up with the space station early Thursday, turning to a point directly in front of the outpost before docking at the lab’s forward port.

The connection will come just five days after a SpaceX Crew Dragon shuttle, Endurance, undocked from that same port and carried two NASA astronauts, a Japanese aviator and a Russian cosmonaut back to Earth to conclude a 157-day mission.

Maintaining breakneck launch pace, SpaceX plans two Falcon 9 launches on Friday; one from California to launch another batch of Starlink Internet satellites into orbit, and the other from Cape Canaveral to launch two SES communications satellites into space. If all goes well, the company could launch up to 100 Falcon family rockets this year.

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