Saturday, October 6, 2012

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch: Dragon Spacecraft Carries International Payloads

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida - The SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon spacecraft – to be launched Sunday evening from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – will carry 882 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station.

The biggest portion is 390 pounds of utilization payloads, including experiments from NASA/US National Laboratory, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the European Space Agency (ESA).
One of the NASA/US National Laboratory experiments – called CFE-2 – are a “suite of fluid physics experiments that investigates how fluids move up surfaces in microgravity,” according to NASA.  “The results aim to improve current computer models that are used by designers of low gravity fluid systems and may improve fluid transfer systems for water on future spacecraft.”
An educational payload called “Blue Earth Gazing” from JAXA will “record video education demonstrations highlighting various fundamental scientific principles performed by crew members using hardware already on the ISS. JAXA also has a gravity-resistance experiment.
ESA has contributed a biolab that will perform biology experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants, and small invertebrates.  As well, they will sponsor an “Astronaut Energy Requirements for Long-Term Space Flight that will measure changes in energy balance in crew members.
Also on board the Dragon will be ISS crew supplies, ISS vehicle hardware, and miscellaneous computer supplies.
On Day Three of the mission, ISS crew member Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA will use the station’s robotic arm to grapple the Dragon spacecraft.  About two hours later, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams will install Dragon on to the station’s Harmony module.
The following day, the ISS crew will pressurize the connecting vestibule and then open the hatch to Dragon.  Over the next two weeks, the ISS crew will unload the experiments and supplies and then re-load it with return cargo.

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