SpaceX brings 3 tons of cargo to the International Space Station

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

The Falcon 9 first stage booster, making its seventh flight, burst into life at 8:30 p.m. EDT and hurtled away from historic Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 1.7 million pounds of thrust and a visible stream of fiery exhaust gases hundreds of miles around.

Launching directly into the plane of the space station’s orbit, the booster launched on a northeasterly trajectory parallel to the east coast of the United States, dimming to a glow-like speck as it accelerated away from Florida and out of the lower atmosphere.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket put on a dramatic evening sky show on March 14, 2023 as it carried a Dragon cargo ship into orbit carrying three tons of supplies and equipment for the International Space Station. Docking is scheduled for early March 16th. / Source: NASA/SpaceX

Two and a half minutes after liftoff, the nine first stage Merlin engines shut down, the stage dropped and flight resumed on the power of the second stage single engine.

Five minutes later, the first stage landed on a landing barge offshore. A minute later, the second stage glided into its planned orbit. The Dragon cargo ship was then cleared to fly solo.

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

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

“The crew has also requested fresh fruit and chilled cheese,” Dempsey added. “So on board are apples, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, cherry tomatoes, as well as a few different types of cheese.”

But the main goal of the mission is to continue research aboard the outpost, Dempsey said, and “we look forward to the crew aboard the space station having new scientific and research studies to work on.”

Approaching the lab complex from behind and below, the dragon is expected to catch up with the space station early Thursday, circling to a point just in front of the outpost before entering to dock at the lab’s front port.

The connection comes just five days after a SpaceX Crew Dragon ferry — Endurance — undocked from the same port and carried two NASA astronauts, a Japanese aviator and a Russian cosmonaut back to Earth to complete a 157-day mission.

SpaceX Maintains Rapid Launch Pace And Plans Two Falcon 9 Launches On Friday; one from California to launch another batch of Starlink internet satellites and the other from Cape Canaveral to launch two SES communications satellites. If all goes well, the company could launch as many as 100 Falcon family rockets this year.

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