SpaceX’s busy year continues on August 13th. That’s when a Falcon 9 is expected to shoot off its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida en route to the International Space Station. It will be the 6th resupply mission to the ISS this year and SpaceX’s second. Three more resupply missions are expected this year with SpaceX wrapping up the last one in November.
Here’s what we know.
What’s the cargo? Nearly 6,000 pounds supporting more than 250 experiments will be packed into the Dragon capsule. NASA highlighted one of these experiments in a recent post. It’s called Veggie and you guessed it, deals with vegetables. The Dragon comes packed with seeds to support this ongoing experiment.
Last year, ISS crew members ate a few chunks of red romaine lettuce grown from the Veggie experiment.
Don’t worry, NASA made sure the food was safe during the first couple of tests back in 2014.
“I hope to see Veggie’s success as the first step in food production that will allow astronauts on the space station to enjoy fresh food and gain knowledge as we explore beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Veggie’s former project manager Brian Onate back in 2014. Three years later, and the experiment is still going strong.
Will there be a landing attempt? Yep. The plan is to bring the first stage Falcon 9 back to solid ground at LZ-1. Those who can make it out to Kennedy Space Center later this month will be in for quite the treat. Everyone at home? We should get some fantastic footage too. The solid ground landings tend to have better footage with more cameras trained on the falling rocket. Plus, we shouldn’t have to worry about the signal cutting out right as it lands.
The last new Dragon capsule? That appears to be the case. For ISS resupply missions anyway. SpaceNews’ Jeff Foust tweets that this mission will be the last to use a “new build” Dragon.
Scimemi’s slide on upcoming SpX-12 states that it will be the last to use “new build” Dragon; rest of CRS missions will be reused capsules. pic.twitter.com/gUDo2brieX
— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) July 24, 2017
November’s mission is expected to use a reused Dragon capsule. Just like the successful July mission. We’re not sure which Dragon capsule it will be, but this month’s capsule will splash down off the California coast once its mission is completed.
The first of two August launches. A second launch is scheduled for August 24. SpaceX will launch the Formosat 5 Earth observation satellite for Taiwan’s National Space Organization. Another landing will be attempted. This time on the drone ship ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ The Falcon 9 will lift off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
I’ll keep this post updated if any launch dates change.