SpaceX, NASA Commercial Cargo Launch Set for December 21 at Kennedy Space Center

By  //  December 15, 2021

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SpaceX is targeting launch for 5:06 a.m. ET

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, seen atop a Falcon 9 rocket, at the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 24, 2021, in preparation for the company’s 23rd commercial resupply services mission. (NASA Image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – NASA commercial cargo launch provider SpaceX is targeting 5:06 a.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 21, to launch its 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew. Live coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Monday, Dec. 20.

Dragon’s 6,500 pounds of cargo include a variety of NASA investigations, such as a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. There are also experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program and an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.

About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. Arrival to the station is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 22. Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn monitoring operations from the station.

The spacecraft is expected to spend about a month attached to the orbiting outpost before it returns to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down off the coast of Florida.

Live coverage of the launch can be seen on Space Coast Daily TV at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21.