Tesla (TSLA) founder Elon Musk’s space firm SpaceX successfully launched the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on its Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday, marking the company’s 23rd commercial resupply mission.
The spacecraft is expected to arrive at the space station around 9:30 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, carrying 4,800 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and spacecraft gear. It launched at 3:14 a.m. Eastern time from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Because of the weather on Saturday, NASA and SpaceX had to reschedule the launch until Sunday.
Bone development research, retinal diagnostics tests, robotics tests, space environment testing, and improved plant growth experiment, and remote-controlled medication delivery testing are among the science experiments to be transported to the space station. Experiments on plant growth, and colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle will be conducted at the space station’s Faraday Research Facility in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando, Fla.
NASA temporarily suspended construction on a $2.9 billion human lunar landing device, which is contracted with SpaceX until Nov. 1 to allow a lawsuit brought by Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to take its course.
The matter is set for a hearing on Oct. 14.
On August 13, Bezos’ space business filed a complaint in the United States Court of Federal Claims against NASA, alleging that their proposal for a human landing system program was improperly evaluated.
The lawsuit was filed in reaction to the US Government Accountability Office’s July 30 denial of Blue Origin and Dynetics Inc.’s protest of NASA’s award of a $2.9 billion contract for a human lunar landing system to SpaceX. On July 20, Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, aerospace pioneer Mary Wallace Funk, and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen conducted a test flight for Blue Origin, a space-tourism firm established by Bezos.
There is no external cargo in the trunk compartment, unlike many prior Dragon freight flights. “Supply problems and other disruptions due to the pandemic,” according to Jennifer Scott Williams, manager of NASA’s ISS program’s applications client support office, forced cargo scheduled for the trunk on this flight to be pushed to future trips. This includes STP-H7, a payload for the Pentagon’s Space Test Program, which will now fly with STP-H8 on the next cargo Dragon flight later this year.
This cargo Dragon previously flew the CRS-21 cargo mission in late 2020, and it is the first of the updated cargo Dragons to be reused, which were debuted on the CRS-21 mission and are based on the Crew Dragon spacecraft. According to Walker, improvements to the cargo Dragon allowed SpaceX to reduce the time it took to refurbish the spaceship to half or perhaps a third of the time it took to refurbish the first-generation cargo Dragons.
The Falcon 9 rocket was on its fourth flight, having previously launched the commercial crew missions Crew-1 and Crew-2, as well as the SXM-8 communications satellite.