A SpaceX Dragon will launch fresh NASA supplies to the space station today. How to watch live.

A SpaceX Dragon will launch fresh NASA supplies to the space station today. How to watch live.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — SpaceX will launch a Dragon spacecraft with NASA payloads to the International Space Station today (June 3) and you can watch the resupply mission live online.

A shiny new SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch here at 1:29 PM EDT (1729 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The two-stage launcher shoots away from Pad 39 and lofts a robot Dragon cargo capsule weighing more than 7,300 lbs. (3,311 kilograms) of fresh supplies, experiment hardware and other equipment for the astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory. This includes two new solar panels for the station’s electricity grid.

You can follow the launch live on this page and here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA. You can also watch directly via NASA TV or SpaceX’s Launch Webcast Page. NASA’s webcast begins at 12:30 PM EDT (1630 GMT) with live launch pads, followed by launch commentary at 1:00 PM EDT (1700 GMT). The SpaceX webcast will begin approximately 15 minutes before launch.

Related: SpaceX will launch baby squid and tardigrades to the space station

Today’s launch attempt could be the first of two different Falcon missions in the coming days as SpaceX prepares to launch a satellite for Sirius-XM on Sunday (June 6) from a nearby launch pad. That is if the dragon can get off the ground.

Weather forecasts were dubious in Wednesday’s attempt, with forecasters from the 45th Weather Squadron forecasting a 60% chance of favorable circumstances before take off. The main concerns are cumulus clouds and flight through precipitation.

Friday is another chance if the rocket can’t get off the ground; however, the weather forecast is about the same. Regardless of whether the launch is on Thursday or Friday, Dragon will dock with the International Space Station early Saturday (June 5).

Commercial cargo

The SpaceX Dragon freighter for NASA's CRS-22 resupply mission is preparing for a June 3, 2021 launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX Dragon freighter for NASA’s CRS-22 resupply mission is preparing for a June 3, 2021 launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image credit: SpaceX)

The flight, dubbed CRS-22, is SpaceX’s second resupply mission second contract for commercial supply services with NASA and the second to use an upgraded Dragon freighter. The ship is the same as SpaceX’s astronaut-toting counterpart, Crew Dragon, and can carry more cargo than its predecessor.

SpaceX is now one of three commercial partners that will send cargo to the space station. (Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada are the other two.) During the first round of CRS contracts awarded in 2008, Northrop (formerly Orbital ATK) and SpaceX delivered more than 93,800 kilograms of cargo to the ISS during 31 missions for about $6 billion.

With this second round of contracts, and three providers, NASA will order missions as needed and the total prices paid will depend on the type of mission ordered. The agency said the maximum potential value of all contracts is $14 billion.

Tucked inside the freighter is a bevy of research experiments and crew supplies that will support a myriad of scientific studies focusing on life sciences, sustainability, medicine, and more.

One of the primary payloads is: two new roll-out solar panels which will be installed on the outside of the station to strengthen the power system. Built by Boeing, the new solar panels will be installed near the station’s existing arrays to boost the outpost’s power system.

Target sponsors a cargo called TICTOC which focuses on growing cotton plants as part of an effort to increase sustainability. 25 million tons of cotton are grown annually, requiring thousands of liters of water for every kilogram.

The Kidney Cell-02 experiment will look at how kidney stones form in space. Using tissue chips, researchers send kidney cells into space to better understand how kidney stones form. By better understanding their formation, researchers hope they can create better treatments for patients on Earth and even astronauts on long-term missions.

Colgate-Palmolive sends a payload to look at the oral microbiome in space. The study will use a device that simulates biofilm growth on an enamel surface by using saliva from healthy patients, patients with cavities and patients with periodontitis. This allows the researchers to identify plaque pathogens and see what role gravity plays in biofilm formation.

The University of Florida and TechShot are sending 128 squid paralarvae as part of a research study called UMAMI (short for “Understanding microgravity on animal-microbe interactionsThe experiment, which will be conducted on Dragon en route to the ISS, will look at symbiotic relationships between animals and microbes, in this case the Bobtail squid and a bacterium called V. fischeri.

Together with the squid, NASA is sending 2,000 tardigrades or water bears to the ISS to see how these strong organisms can handle the stress of microgravity. Tardigrades are a type of organism known as an extremophile and can survive freezing and even live in the vacuum of space. Researchers hope these tiny microorganisms will help identify which genes are responsible for helping the tardigrades to be so adaptable.

Dueling Falcons

A new SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the CRS-22 Dragon freighter rolls to its Pad 39A launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 1, 2021.

A new SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the CRS-22 Dragon freighter rolls to its Pad 39A launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 1, 2021. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Today’s launch marks the 17th flight of the year for SpaceX’s workhorse two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. The launch is expected to feature a shiny new Falcon 9 first stage, designated B1067. It is the first mission so far in 2021 to use a brand new booster.

That’s because flying previously flown boosters is now commonplace for SpaceX as the company continues to prove the Falcon 9’s reliability. Near an adjacent launch pad is one of SpaceX’s veteran rockets, B1061. This particular booster is gearing up for its third launch and landing attempt which is scheduled no earlier than June 6.

If all goes according to plan, that rocket will launch a broadband satellite into orbit for Sirius-XM. The satellite, called SXM-8, is the second of two satellites that SpaceX has launched for broadcast. The first satellite (SXM-7) experiencing an orbit anomaly after launch in Dec. Both satellites would replace the older one in the company’s current constellation.

After a timely launch, the Falcon 9’s first stage returns to Earth, landing about nine minutes later on the deck of SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You.” The massive ship is one of two floating platforms that SpaceX uses to capture its rockets.

To date, SpaceX has successfully landed its first stage boosters 85 times. Of course, I Still Love You is already in the recovery zone waiting for its turn to catch B1067 when it returns to Earth this afternoon.

If all goes according to plan, the Dragon will arrive at the station approximately 40 hours after it explodes and will dock at the space-facing port of the Harmony module. NASA will also broadcast that docking live online, scheduled for 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT) on Saturday.

Follow Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.



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