[Update: Dragon spacecraft deployed] SpaceX to launch 23rd resupply mission to the International Space Station

spacex crs-23 falcon 9 before launch

After weather scrubbed SpaceX’s first attempt to launch CRS-23, they will be trying again tonight. This mission will feature a Falcon 9 rocket launching the company’s Dragon 2 cargo vehicle to the International Space Station. This will be SpaceX’s 23rd mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program and 3rd for the CRS-2 contract.

Date: Sunday, August 29th at 3:14 a.m. EDT

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9 (B1061-4)

Capsule: Dragon 2 Cargo (C208-2)

Launch Pad: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Destination: International Space Station, Low Earth Orbit

Landing Site: A Shortfall of Gravitas, Atlantic Ocean

The Capsule

SpaceX’s Dragon 2 capsule was developed for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program as an upgraded crewed version of the original Dragon capsule. The Dragon 1 capsule served reliably for SpaceX and NASA and visited the ISS 20 times.

SpaceX’s CRS-23 Dragon 2 cargo spacecraft on top of its Falcon 9 awaiting launch. Credit: Derek Wise

The improved Dragon 2 variant allows SpaceX to autonomously dock with one of the ISS’s two IDA, International Docking Adapter, ports. These ports, named IDA-2 and IDA-3 (IDA-1 was lost in the CRS-7 anomaly) are on the Harmony module with IDA-3 currently being used by Dragon Endeavour. That means C208-2 will be arriving at IDA-2.

The Rocket

Like all Dragon flights before it, CRS-23 will be launching on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX’s workhorse vehicle. The Falcon 9 gets its name from the 9 Merlin engines it uses on its reusable first stage to lift the payload through the majority of the atmosphere. After the first stage is finished, the second stage and its single vacuum optimized Merlin take over to carry the Dragon spacecraft to orbit.

In total, the Falcon 9 has launched 123 times with one failure in flight and one in preflight tests giving SpaceX a 98% success rate. The Falcon 9 rocket was the first orbital rocket to be recovered and reused again. So far it has proven that reusability is a viable option in the industry with several companies following suit.

SpaceX’s 4 times flown Falcon 9 rocket with a 2 times flown Dragon 2 spacecraft ready to launch the CRS-23 mission for NASA. Credit: Jared Locke

SpaceX launch weather

The weather was a big concern for SpaceX last night as it scrubbed the launch at about T-10 minutes. Weather again will be difficult to manage for tonight’s launch attempt. While Hurricane Ida will pull a lot of the moisture out of the air. Still, Space Launch Delta 45 only gives SpaceX a 60% probability of good launch weather.

Current concerns are cumulus clouds and precipitation which could cause the launch to be pushed back to early Tuesday morning. On Tuesday weather improves greatly with an 80% probability of good launch weather. The concern for that day is only cumulus clouds.

CRS-23 Launch Updates

Sunday, August 29, 3:27 p.m. EDT: SpaceX’s CRS-23 cargo Dragon has deployed from the second stage.

Sunday, August 29, 3:23 p.m. EDT: SECO-1, second engine cut-off

Sunday, August 29, 3:23 p.m. EDT: Landing confirmed for the first time on SpaceX’s A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship!

Sunday, August 29, 3:22 p.m. EDT: Booster landing burn start.

Sunday, August 29, 3:21 p.m. EDT: Entry burn shut down.

Sunday, August 29, 3:21 p.m. EDT: Entry burn has begun for the Falcon 9 booster.

Sunday, August 29, 3:18 p.m. EDT: Boost back burn has ended.

Sunday, August 29, 3:18 p.m. EDT: Second stage ignition and the booster has begun its boost back burn.

Sunday, August 29, 3:17 p.m. EDT: MECO, Main engine cut-off and stage separation.

Sunday, August 29, 3:16 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 has passed through Max-Q, the maximum point of aerodynamic pressure.

Sunday, August 29, 3:15 p.m. EDT: Liftoff of SpaceX’s CRS-23 mission to the ISS.

Sunday, August 29, 3:14 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 is go for launch.

Sunday, August 29, 3:14 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 is in startup.

Sunday, August 29, 3:13 p.m. EDT: Stage 2 Liquid Oxygen loading has finished.

Sunday, August 29, 3:12 p.m. EDT: The Strongback has begun retracting from the rocket.

Sunday, August 29, 2:54 p.m. EDT: The second stage has been fully fueled with RP-1.

Sunday, August 29, 2:38 p.m. EDT: Teams have given the GO for propellent loading.

Sunday, August 29, 2:32 p.m. EDT: With just under an hour left in the count. Weather has improved a bit to 80% probability of favorable weather this morning.

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