On Wednesday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is expected to lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida bound for the International Space Station. The brand-new rocket will be carrying a previously flown Dragon capsule loaded with supplies and experiments. It will mark SpaceX’s 19th trip to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program. After the rocket booster sends its payload on its way, it is expected to attempt a landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The Dragon capsule should return to Earth about a month later.
Science experiments account for roughly a third of the weight that SpaceX will be delivering to the world’s premier orbital laboratory. On the physics side, astronauts will use the equipment to study the behavior of fire in microgravity and update the Cold Atom Lab on the station, which has the distinction of being the coldest place in the known universe. There are also some biology experiments on board. Forty live mice will be used to study how muscles degrade in space, and the brewer Anheuser-Busch is sending some barley seeds up to study how the space environment affects germination and malting as part of its ongoing quest to make Budweiser the “first beer on Mars.”
The CRS-19 mission kicks off a busy month for SpaceX that will round out an otherwise slow year. In 2018, SpaceX racked up a record 21 launches, but today’s launch will be just the 12th for the year. Still, the company has a few more launches to go before it rings in the new decade.
In mid-December SpaceX will launch a telecommunications satellite that will provide broadband services to islands in the Pacific and southeast Asia. SpaceX is also expected to launch 60 more of its Starlink internet satellites and conduct an in-flight abort test that will jettison its Crew Dragon capsule mid-flight, but it has not announced dates for either of these missions.
The launch window opens at 12:51 pm EDT; we’ll update this post with information on how to watch the launch once it becomes available.
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