SpaceX launches 3 tons of cargo to the International Space Station

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

Falcon 9’s first booster, making its seventh flight, came to life at 8:30 p.m. EDT and took off from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 1.7 million pounds of thrust and a torrent of gas exhaust visible for tens of miles around.

Launched directly into the space station’s plane of orbit, the booster lifted off on a northeast trajectory parallel to the east coast of the United States, dimming to an ember-like speck as it accelerated away from Florida and out of the lower atmosphere.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket put on a dramatic evening show in the sky on March 14, 2023, as it carried into orbit a Dragon cargo ship carrying three tons of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station. 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 detached, and flight continued on power from the single second stage engine.

Five minutes later, the first stage landed on an offshore landing barge. A minute later, the second stage slipped into its planned orbit. The Dragon cargo ship was then released to fly on its own.

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

“Dragon carries just under 6,300 pounds of cargo, which includes crew supplies, science investigations, spacewalking equipment and vehicle hardware,” said Phil Dempsey, space station transportation integration manager at the Johnson Space Center Houston.

“Also, the crew requested fresh fruit and refrigerated cheeses,” Dempsey added. “So there are apples, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, cherry tomatoes and a few different cheeses on board.”

But the primary goal of the mission is to enable continued research aboard the outpost, Dempsey said, and “we look forward to the crew aboard the space station having new science and research investigations to work on.” “.

Approaching the laboratory complex from behind and below, the Dragon is expected to reach the space station early Thursday, making a loop to a point directly in front of the outpost before moving on to dock at the laboratory’s forward port .

The link will happen just five days after a SpaceX Crew Dragon — Endurance — ferry released from the same door and brought two NASA astronauts, a Japanese pilot and a Russian cosmonaut back to Earth to wrap up a 157-day mission.

Maintaining a breakneck launch pace, SpaceX plans two Falcon 9 launches on Friday; one from California to put another batch of Starlink Internet satellites into orbit and the other from Cape Canaveral to take 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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