Breaking News: SpaceX to lift off cargo out of this world

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launches May 4, 2019, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a NASA-contracted mission to resupply the International Space Station. Credits: NASA

NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX now is targeting 6:24 pm EDT Wednesday, 24 July, for the launch of its 18th resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Dragon spacecraft will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and arrive at the space station on Friday, 26 July, filled with about 5,500 ilbs (2.5 tonnes) of science, cargo and crew supplies for the microgravity laboratory.

The company’s 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 Dragon’s 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 NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Dragon will dock to the space station Friday, 26 July, and be greeted by NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan. Using the station’s robotic arm, Hague will grab, or grapple, Dragon with Koch providing backup. Morgan will assist by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. After Dragon capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s robotic arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.