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NEW YORK, January 6. /TASS/. The American cargo spacecraft Dragon is expected to be launched on Tuesday atop the Falcon 9 rocket from the US Air Force base launch facility at Cape Canaveral (Florida).
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are prepared for Tuesday’s planned launch, and the International Space Station (ISS) is ready to receive the cargo that will be sent aloft on the resupply flight, NASA and SpaceX officials reported.
Launch of the Falcon 9 rocket on the SpaceX CRS-5 mission is scheduled for 06:20 am, local time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40, NASA said.
Clouds across the launch area are expected to thin out, and forecasters with the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 70% chance of favourable conditions at launch time.
The Dragon spaceship marks the company’s fifth resupply mission to the ISS under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to deliver 20,000 kg (44,000 pounds) of cargo to the station during a dozen Dragon cargo spacecraft flights through 2016 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
The unmanned cargo freighter is loaded with more than 5108 pounds (2317 kg) of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, crew supplies, spare parts, food, water, clothing and assorted research gear for the space station.
The Dragon research experiments will support over 256 science and research investigations for the six person space station crews on Expeditions 42 and 43. Among the payloads is the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), a remote-sensing laser instrument to measure clouds and the location and distribution of pollution, dust, smoke, and other particulates and aerosols in the atmosphere.
SpaceX during the forthcoming launch will try to preserve the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that had earlier fallen into the Atlantic Ocean. To this end, the company intends to use a special sea platform on which the rocket’s first stage is make a parachute landing.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the length of this “floating craft” is 90 meters and width — 50 meters. SpaceX aims to bring the rocket’s first stage back for a precision touchdown on an “autonomous spaceport drone ship” off the coast of Florida in a key test of reusable rocket technology. Elon Musk has given the ambitious manoeuvre a 50% chance of success, and other company representatives have also sought to tamp down expectations.