Friday, March 1, 2013

80% Chance Weather 'GO' For SpaceX Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The launch of a Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket carrying a cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station is scheduled to liftoff today at 10:10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

The Falcon 9 rocket with its Dragon capsule (pictured-above) was rolled out to Space Launch Complex 40 in preparation for the launch. Photo Credit: SpaceX 

The most recent forecast issued by the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 80% chance of overall permissible weather conditions for the SpaceX launch. The primary weather concerns for launch are thick clouds and liftoff winds. 

SpaceX's Dragon capsule is filled with about 1,200 pounds of supplies for the space station crew and experiments being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory. 

On March 2, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA are scheduled to use the station's robot arm to grapple Dragon following its rendezvous with the station. The astronauts will attach the Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module for a few weeks while astronauts unload cargo. They then will load experiment samples for return to Earth. 

Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth on March 25 for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. It will be bringing back more than 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment. 

The mission is the second of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. It will mark the third trip by a Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory, following a demonstration flight in May 2012 and the first resupply mission in October 2012. 

PHOTO: The Dragon spacecraft stands inside a processing hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where teams had just installed the spacecraft's solar array fairings on Jan. 12, 2013. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett