SpaceX is preparing their third mission in 2016 – CRS-contracted flight to International Space Station.
Good news from SpaceX – everything is going according to plan before launch planned for Friday, 8th April 2016 on 20:43 GMT. Static fire test was performed today by SpaceX specialists at night in Cape Canaveral. Rocket was placed on launch pad in SpaceX Space Launch Complex 40; engineers are still reviewing gathered data and after that, in case if everything will be correct, they will give sign for launch readiness (at the moment launch probability is 70%). Dragon will be launched on atop of Falcon-9 1.2v. First stage of the rocket will try to perform landing on autonomous spaceport drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You”. Dragon automatic spacecraft will dock to International Space Station on Sunday around 11:00 GMT – it will be grabbed by Canadarm2 arm and attached to nadir berthing port on Harmony module.
At the moment main payload is already packed – on March 24, 2016 Bigelow Aerospace finished packing their BEAM module into Dragon. BEAM stands for Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, it is inflatable ISS module manufactured under contract with NASA signed in 2012. It is weighing 1400 kg flexible structure based on aluminum space frame. It will be attached with Canadarm2 to aft docking port of Node-3 ISS module. Next it will be inflated and fully deployed – its dimensions after inflating are 4 m long and 3.2 m diameter. Measuring devices installed inside will be monitoring condition of BEAM – mainly if there are no leaks and if flexible radiation shields made from Kevlar and vinyl polymer foam are working. It is not confirmed that ISS crew members will use BEAM. It was only announced that during two years of testing, astronauts will enter to BEAM for collecting data from onboard instruments.
In spite of BEAM, Dragon scientific payload is: biological material (live mice) for Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly experiment, Microchannel Diffusion experiment on physics of fluids on atomic level and CASIS Protein Crystal Growth 4 experiment on crystallization processes.
Dragon will deliver to ISS total payload of 3136 kg; in pressurized conditions it will be delivered 1723 kg where 640 kg are science materials and experiments, 547 kg are supplies for crew members, various parts and hardware are 306 kg, EVA equipment weight is 12 kg, computer equipment weighs 108 kg and materials and equipment for Roscosmos cosmonauts weighs 33 kg. In unpressurized section of Dragon only BEAM will be delivered, which weighs, after packing and preparing to transport, 1413 kg.