Following a brief delay of 24 hours at NASA's request, SpaceX is ready to support the first launch of Cargo Dragon of Falcon 9 Block 5 and its 16th operational mission to supply the International Space Station.
Carrying just under With 2600 kg of science experiments, ISS hardware and refillable goods, CRS-16 will reuse a cargo Dragon capsule already in orbit for the fifth time. This capsule was introduced in February and reinstated in March 2017.
In order to have time for sharing parts of an @ISS_Research experiment, the launch of the @SpaceX cargo delivery mission was initiated International @Space_Station will now be on Wednesday, December 5, at 1:16 pm ET. Details: https://t.co/EvShjud5ws pic.twitter.com/4Ug8xmfs69
– NASA (@NASA) December 4, 2018
Apart from being the first of NASA Certified Launch of SP aceX's latest upgrade from Block 5 to the Falcon rocket family, CRS-16, will be the first attempt to land a Falcon 9 Block 5 on the East Coast. Hopefully you will see B1050 in one of the two landing zones of the company (LZ-1 or LZ-1) LZ-2) on the Florida coast. Specifically, this type of landing, referred to as Return To Launch Site (RTLS) recovery, suggests that Falcon 9 can fly a relatively smooth takeoff and reentry trajectory thanks to a combination of light payload and low power target orbit. B1050 may therefore be an excellent candidate to break 72 days of SpaceX's record-breaking turnaround record – the new Block 5 booster will still undergo one of the most gentle landings of the upgraded rocket.
2018 was a milestone for the SpaceX program of The reusability of Falcon 9 is proof that 60% of the company's 19 launches (20, if CRS-16 is a success) have flown on or with proven boosters. This impressive ratio is likely to increase further until 2019, to the point that by 2020, the launch of a new Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy amplifier could be downright rare.] On the kite side, SpaceX has in August 2017, almost 16 months ago to complete the final launch of a brand new Cargo Dragon. Since then, all Cargo Dragon launches are equipped with refurbished capsules, though the spacecraft's hull area – with some fuel, solar arrays, and storage space – is spent after each mission and must therefore be replaced. So far, SpaceX has only one or two airworthy Cargo Dragons that have completed less than two orbits into orbit, meaning that at least two of the company's remaining CRS-1 missions (CRS-17-20) have the third orbital start of their capsule. Fortunately, Cargo Dragon has long been designed for three starts per capsule life.
The first of these third orbits will most likely start sometime next year. In the meantime, SpaceX's CRS-16 launch will be broadcast live as usual and will be available for viewing at 10PST PST today (13:00 EST, 18:00 UTC).
A cargo dragon approaches the ISS. (Oleg Artemyev)
Cargo Dragon, a reused spacecraft, was on Earth after its second successful supply mission. (SpaceX)
SpaceX's LZ-1 pad shortly after a Falcon 9 landing. Notice the black, radar-reflective color. (SpaceX)
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