Heavy will have live coverage of the countdown and launch of SpaceX’s historic launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This will be SpaceX’s 10th operational Dragon resupply flight to the International Space Station.
“SpaceX is targeting a late morning launch of its tenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-10) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This mission has an instantaneous launch window with the next attempt opportunity on Sunday, February 19 at 9:39:00 a.m. EST,” according to a release.
A capsule called “Dragon” will separate from Falcon 9’s launch vehicle around 10 minutes after liftoff and will attach to the ISS approximately two days later. Following separation, the launch vehicle of Falcon 9 will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral.
Sunday’s launch will be the fist launch by a private space company on NASA property, and will be SpaceX’s second attempt to launch the designated payload from LC-39A. The company scrubbed Saturday’s attempts due to “positioning of the second stage engine nozzle.”
Dragon will be filled with more than 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments, the latter containing “critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur” during upcoming missions.
Among the investigations are experiments to help fight human disease, monitor climate data and improve autonomous spacecraft docking at ISS.
According to Ars Technica, NASA built two main launch pads for use during the Apollo program: 39A and 39B. The former was used for most of the space shuttle missions and every moon landing launch except for Apollo 10. After the space shuttle program was decommissioned in 2011, NASA leased Launch Complex 39A to SpaceX.
CRS-10 is the tenth of up to 20 SpaceX missions to the ISS that the private space company will fly for NASA under the first CRS contract. In early 2016, NASA selected SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft to resupply the space station through 2024 as part of the second Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Mission Timeline (all times approximate)
– 01:18:00 Launch Conductor takes launch readiness poll
– 00:70:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
– 00:45:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
– 00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
– 00:02:00 Range Control Officer (USAF) verifies range is go for launch
– 00:01:30 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
– 00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
– 00:01:00 Pressurize propellant tanks
– 00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff
LAUNCH AND DRAGON DEPLOYMENT
00:01:15 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:21 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:24 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:32 2nd stage engine starts
00:02:41 1st stage boostback burn begins
00:06:32 1st stage entry burn begins
00:07:33 1st stage landing burn begins
00:09:05 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:10:05 Dragon separates from 2nd stage
00:11:00 Dragon’s solar arrays deploy
02:20:00 Dragon’s Guidance, Navigation and Control bay door opens