Update: Launch delayed, but officially due to an issue aboard the drone ship. They’ll try again late tonight.
Update 2: Success!
It’s time for another SpaceX launch, and though tonight’s (technically early tomorrow morning’s) isn’t as historic as the Falcon Heavy, it’s always impressive to see a Falcon 9 lift off with supplies for the International Space Station. But inclement weather threatens to delay delivery.
CRS-17 will be taking two tons of supplies and other items to the ISS, including the new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, an experiment to generate algae for human consumption on board (they won’t be trying it this time round), and a cool new multi-experiment microgravity platform called Hermes.
The full scientific payload is described in this NASA blog post from a few weeks back. Naturally, the Dragon capsule (this one flew in August 2017 as well, it’s worth noting) also carries food and other supplies. The first stage will return to the surface and attempt to land on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, which will be cruising the Atlantic waiting for its passenger.
The launch is less than 24 hours after SpaceX issued a statement regarding the explosion of a Crew Dragon capsule during testing. The cause of the “anomaly” is yet to be determined, but it’s important to note that this is a completely different platform than the now proven and reliable Falcon 9/Cargo Dragon combo that has flown dozens of commercial missions.
Takeoff is set for 3:11 AM Eastern time in Cape Canaveral, with streams starting about 45 minutes beforehand — but there’s a good chance tonight’s launch will be scrubbed because of bad weather.
“We’ve been monitoring an area of disturbed weather over the Bahamas for the past few days, and that area of disturbed weather is encroaching upon the Space Coast,” said Air Force launch weather officer Will Ulrich in a NASA update. Right now there’s about a 40 percent chance of a successful launch.
This would be the second delay for CRS-17, which was put off from May 1st to the 3rd late in April. Don’t worry, though — the crew in the ISS has more than enough to get by for quite some time. The next launch opportunity would be within 24 hours, too. We’ll update this post if there’s a definite hold put on the launch.
If it’s a go, you’ll be able to watch the launch below: