The International Space Station soon should be chockablock with new supplies and scientific research goodies, following the second successful launch of a cargo-resupply spacecraft within less than three days.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 12:45 a.m. July 18, and the Dragon cargo craft it launched into orbit is set to deliver crew supplies and sundry other cargo to the space station the morning of July 20.
The rocket’s booster stage was returned to a land-based pad about eight minutes after liftoff. SpaceX now has been successful in four of six attempts at land or sea landings of its rockets, which it aims to make reusable.
It’s expected to take about five weeks to unload all of the nearly 4,900 pounds of supplies from the Dragon and then also load the craft with other cargo ahead of a scheduled return to Earth on Aug. 29. A huge new ISS docking adapter is included in the hardware the Dragon is delivering to the space station to upgrade its automatic porting capabilities.
Meantime, a Russian cargo spacecraft was scheduled to deliver 3 tons of food and other supplies to the ISS at 8:22 p.m. EDT July 18. The Russian-built Soyuz Progress was launched at 5:41 p.m. EDT July 16 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress is slated to remain docked at the space station for six months.