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SpaceX targeting May 1 for next cargo Dragon launch



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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Following a successful static test of its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX is looking at the beginning of May for its next cargo mission to the International Space Station.

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 A file photo of the previous Falcon 9 rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

A file photo of a previous Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Following a successful static test of its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX is looking at the beginning of May for its next cargo mission to the International Space Station.

The F9's nine Merlin 1D engines were checked out at around 10 am. EDT (GMT 14:00) is Saturday, April 27, 2019. With the rocket firmly attached to the launch pad, all nine of its first stage Merlin 1D engines were fired for several seconds before shutting down as planned.

SpaceX confirmed about 25 minutes later that the test had occurred and that the company is planning to start the mission at 3:59 am EDT (7:59 GMT) May 1. If everything goes as planned, this will be the company's 17th commercial resupply mission to the ISS under the NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract (giving it the moniker of 'CRS-17'). The CRS-17 Dragon has more than 5,500 pounds (2500 kilograms) of crew supplies, hardware and experiments on board.

 The CRS-16 Dragon spacecraft perched on the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket at Canaveral's SLC-40. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

The CRS-16 Dragon spacecraft perched on the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket at Canaveral's SLC-40. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Once in orbit, the vehicle is expected to take about two days to reach the orbiting lab before being captured by the outpost's robotic Canadarm2. Ground teams are then expected to remotely maneuver the arm to attach the spacecraft to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.

It is sometimes said that the Cargo Dragon "docks" with the station. In fact, given how the vehicle is attached to the 21-year-old outpost it is actually "berthed."

The successful test fire comes about a week after the April 20 "anomaly" that occurred during the static fire test of The SuperDraco engines on the Crew Dragon capsule that was used for the Crew Demo-1 mission in March.

While Crew Demo-1 was a complete success, SpaceX was planning to reuse the kapsule that carried that flight for in- flight abort test sometime this summer. The SpaceX was putting the capsule through various ground tests at Landing Zone 1 at Canaveral's Landing Zone 1.

Since the Crew Dragon investigation is still ongoing, SpaceX has opted to move its planned recovery The Falcon 9 first stage is being used for the CRS-17 mission. Instead of touching down on the ground at LZ-1, SpaceX has decided to use its autonomous spaceport drone ship (ASDS) of course I Still Love You. The company will position the drone ship about 17 miles (28 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral

Once the CRS-17 mission gets off the ground, it should mark the fifth launch by SpaceX in 2019 and the 70th Falcon 9 mission since 2010 (not counting the two triple-core Falcon Heavy flights in 2018 and 2019).

NASA is not SpaceX's only customer. The Hawthorne, California-based company's 2019 launch manifest has at least seven more missions on its manifest, all of which are slated to take the skies from Florida's Space Coast (the Radarsat C1, C2 & C3 mission is set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 4 on May 16th.

Tagged: CRS-17 Dragon Falcon 9 International Space Station Lead Stories NASA SpaceX

Derek Richardson

Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University of Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, The Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team shortly thereafter.

His passion for space was ignited when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated towards the orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized his true calling was communicating to others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our managing editor. @TheSpaceWriter


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