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NASA ready to Launch ISS-RapidScat on Saturday, September 20th

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, carrying the ISS-RapidScat scatterometer instrument designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is scheduled to launch Saturday, September 20th, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station’s partners and managers.

Artist's rendering of NASA's ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which will launch to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. It will be installed on the end of the station's Columbus laboratory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which will launch to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. It will be installed on the end of the station’s Columbus laboratory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

The company’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft loaded with more than 5,000 pounds (2, 270 kilograms) of scientific experiments and supplies, will lift off at 11:16pm PDT September 19th (2:16am EDT September 20th).

NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 10:15pm PDT (1:15am EDT). If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is Saturday, September 20th, at approximately 10:53pm PDT (Sunday, September 21st, at approximately 1:53am EDT).

The mission, designated SpaceX CRS-4, is the fourth of 12 SpaceX flights NASA contracted with the company to resupply the space station. It will be the fifth trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory.

The spacecraft’s 2.5 tons of supplies, science experiments, and technology demonstrations include critical materials to support 255 science and research investigations that will occur during the station’s Expeditions 40 and 41.

Science payloads include the ISS-Rapid Scatterometer to monitor ocean surface wind speed and direction; new biomedical hardware that will help facilitate prolonged biological studies of rodents in microgravity; and a study of a small flowering plant related to cabbage that allows scientists to study plant growth and adaptations in space.

New technology demonstrations aboard the Dragon spacecraft include the Special Purpose Inexpensive Satellite, or SpinSat, to test how a small satellite moves and positions itself in space using new thruster technology and the 3-D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration, the first 3-D printer in space.

NASA will host a series of prelaunch news conferences Thursday, September 18th, and Friday, September 19th, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

During panel discussions September 18th at 6:00am, 7:00am and 8:00am PDT (9:00am, 10:00am and 11:00am EDT), scientists and researchers will discuss the various science and research studies, including RapidScat, 3-D printing in Zero-G, technology to measure bone density, and model organism research using rodents, fruit flies and plants.

NASA senior leaders will host a briefing September 19th at 6:00am PDT (9:00am EDT), followed by a prelaunch news conference at 7:00am PDT (10:00am EDT), at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All these briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. A post-launch briefing will be held approximately 90 minutes after launch.

If launch occurs September 20th, NASA TV will provide live coverage Monday, September 22nd, of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 2:30am PDT (5:30am EDT) with grapple at approximately 4:30am PDT (7:30am EDT). Berthing coverage begins at 6:30am PDT (9:30am EDT).

The Dragon will remain attached to the space station’s Harmony module for more than four weeks and then splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California with almost two tons of experiment samples and equipment returning from the station.

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the SpaceX CRS-4 flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 10:15pm PDT (1:15am EDT) as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video, podcast and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff.

You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog and learn more about the SpaceX CRS-4 mission by going to the mission home page at:

http://www.nasa.gov/SpaceX

Twitter

The NASA News Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA News Twitter feed, visit:

http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy

Facebook

The NASA News Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA Facebook feed, visit:

http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

For more information about ISS-RapidScat, visit:

http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/RapidScat/


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