NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX now is targeting 6:24 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 24, for the launch of its 18th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agencyswebsite with prelaunch events Tuesday, July 23.
The companys Dragon spacecraft will deliver supplies and critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 60 and beyond. In addition to bringing research to station, the Dragons unpressurized trunk is carrying the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3), which, when installed on the space station, will provide the microgravity laboratory with two common ports that expand opportunities for visiting vehicles, including new spacecraft designed to carry humans for NASAs Commercial Crew Program.
Dragon will dock to the space station Friday, July 26, and be greeted by NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan. Using the stations robotic arm, Hague will grab, or grapple, Dragon with Koch providing backup. Morgan will assist by monitoring telemetry during Dragons approach. After Dragon capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the stations robotic arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the stations Harmony module.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Tuesday, July 23
- 9 a.m. NASA Social, Whats on Board science briefing from NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This briefing will highlight the following research:
- Pete Hasbrook, manager of NASAs International Space Station Program Science Office, will provide an overview of the research being conducted on the space station and how it benefits exploration and humanity.
- Ken Shields, chief operating officer of the International Space Stations U.S. National Laboratory, will discuss the labs work in advancing science in space and developing partnerships that drive industrialization.
- Gene Boland, chief scientist at Techshot, Inc., and Ken Church, chief executive officer at nScrypt, will discuss the BioFabrication Facility, which is designed to print organ-like tissues in microgravity, a stepping stone in a long-term plan to manufacture whole human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.
- Charles Cockell, professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh, will discuss Biorock, an investigation that will provide insight into the physical interactions of liquid, rocks and microorganisms under microgravity conditions to inform potential mining of materials in space and benefit long-duration spaceflight missions.
- Valentina Fossati from the New York Stem Foundation Research Institute and Andres Bratt-Leal from Aspen Neuroscience will discuss the Space Tango Induced Stem Cells investigation, where cells from patients with Parkinsons disease and Multiple Sclerosis will be cultured on the space station to examine the cell-to-cell interactions that occur in such neurodegenerative diseases and inform the development of new treatments.
- Rasha Hammamieh, principal investigator from the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, and Melissa Kacena, co-investigator at the Indiana University School of Medicine, will discuss the Cell Science-02 investigation. This study compares the ability of two different bone-inducing growth factors, one novel and one currently used in bone healing therapies, to stimulate growth, differentiation and related cellular functions of osteoblast in the microgravity environment.
- Jason August, manager of the International Space Station Mission Evaluation Room, will discuss IDA-3, where Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will dock in the near future when it transports astronauts to the station.
Wednesday, July 24
- 10 a.m. Prelaunch news conference from Kennedy with representatives from the agencys International Space Station Program, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Forces 45th Space Wing.
- 6 p.m. NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 6:24 p.m. launch.
Friday, July 26
- 5:30 a.m. Dragon rendezvous, grapple and attaching to the station. Capture is scheduled for approximately 7 a.m.
- 9 a.m. Dragon installation to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station
Dragon will remain at the space station until Aug. 20, when the spacecraft will return to Earth with research and return cargo.