Dragon Resupply Mission (CRS-14)


On Monday afternoon, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket that has launched before to deliver equipment and supplies to the International Space Station.

This is SpaceX's 52nd flight of a Falcon 9 - its 53rd counting the maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket in February and its 14th station resupply mission.

SpaceX CRS-14 is the fourteenth of up to 20 missions to the International Space Station that SpaceX will fly for NASA under the first CRS contract.

That will be followed by the company's third April launch on the 24th, when the company will send a communications satellite into space.

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Meanwhile, today's mission is focused on simply getting cargo to space. A variant of the Dragon spacecraft, called Crew Dragon, is being developed for US - based crew transport to and from the space station. The technology can be used to 3-D print metal parts, but it's trickier to do in zero gravity than it is on Earth. After all of its supplies are unloaded, the capsule will remain attached for about 30 days. Once the Dragon craft leaves the space station, it will spend about five hours traveling back to Earth, at which point "it will conduct its deorbit burn, which lasts up to 10 minutes". When the capsule leaves in May, it will have NASA's old Robonaut 2 on board, a humanoid robot that's been on the ISS since 2011. The flight has an instantaneous launch window, so the rocket has to lift off at that time or wait until tomorrow.

"The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract enables us to adjust as necessary for additional missions or contingencies so we can provide the greatest benefits possible from this great worldwide asset", explains ISS Program Manager Kirk Shireman in an official statement.

The company plans three launches this month from Florida, with SpaceX set to launch a surveying satellite that will identify planets for NASA on April 16.