February 27, 2013
SpaceX engineers are sorting through data from a Feb. 25 Falcon 9/Dragon launch pad “hot fire” test at Cape Canaveral, as they ready the company’s second mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Funded as part of the company’s $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA, the mission is due to lift off March 1 at 10:10 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 40.
Station commander Kevin Ford and flight engineer Tom Marshburn, both of NASA, will be posted at a control panel for Canada’s 58-ft.-long robot arm in the Cupola observation desk of the six-person orbiting science lab, ready to capture the unpiloted Dragon capsule on March 2 at 6:30 a.m., EST. Berthing activities of the Dragon and its 1,300 lb. of supplies, most of it U.S., European, Canadian and Japanese research gear, are scheduled to follow at 8:40 a.m. EST.
The capsule will remain berthed to the station’s Harmony module until March 25, under current scheduling.
During the Feb. 25 test, all nine of the Falcon’s first-stage Merlin engines reached full power for 2 sec., concluding a full countdown dress rehearsal in which the Falcon 9/Dragon combination was secured to the launch pad, SpaceX said in a post-rehearsal statement.
Elon Musk, the company’s CEO and chief designer, added a “parameters normal,” comment on Twitter.
SpaceX completed its six-year, NASA-funded Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems cargo development initiative in May 2012 with a successful Falcon 9/Dragon demonstration mission to the ISS. The demo cleared the way for the first of a dozen supply missions under the CRS contract in October.
Though successful, the CRS-1 flight prompted an investigation into a computer-commanded shutdown of one of the nine first-stage engines 79 sec. into flight, as well as a modification to the sealing qualities of the electrical boxes that provide refrigeration to ISS biomedical samples returning to Earth aboard Dragon.