Falcon-9 1.2v remains ready at SLC-40 launch site at Cape Canaveral AFS with Dragon robotic cargo spacecraft under payload fairing. Only hours are separating us from beginning of the CRS-9 mission to International Space Station.

According to weather forecasts given yesterday for Cape Canaveral, we have cloudless sky, mild wind and warm air-everything seems to be ready for the beginning of the CRS-9 mission, during which SpaceX will deliver to ISS International Docking Adapter and almost 2257 kg of payload, including 370 kg of supplies, 408 kg of part, computer hardware and EVA equipment, 54 kg of Russian equipment and 930 kg of scientific payload.

Over 12 months after failed CRS-7 mission, when Falcon exploded shortly after liftoff, we will see something what last year was still planned as an experiment. First stage of the Falcon will perform today (launch is planned for 04:45 GMT, 18th July) landing after separation from second stage with Dragon. This time it will perform landing attempt at Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1), former Space Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral. It means, that recently utilized drone ships will remain in their port; last (and first in the history) landing in LZ-1 was on December 22, 2015, and begun series of landing attempts on robotic ships. Second and third landings on vessels (on January 17, 2016 and on March 14, 2016) were not successful; third (April 8), fourth (May 6) and fifth (May 27) were conducted with success (fifth attempt finished with broken stabilizing leg of the booster). Sixth return of the booster on June 15, 2016 was also correct and landing procedure became something less experimental and more ordinary during SpaceX missions.

Flight plan for CRS-9 mission is simple: launch, land, deliver to orbit; Falcon-9 will be launched in 1.2 version (also known as Full Thrust) with supercooled (-183°C to -206°C) liquid oxygen filling rocket’s tanks and reengineered thrust control. Dragon spacecraft is identical as spacecraft used in previous missions, only exception is fact, that inside its trunk (on the bottom of service module) it will deliver weighing over 500 kg IDA adapter. Docking to Harmony Earth facing port is planned for 20th July; IDA will be extracted from Dragon with Canadarm2 and installed during EVA later this summer.

Flight plan:

  • T+00’00”-Falcon-9 1.2v liftoff
  • T+01’08” – rocket will reach point of maximal dynamic pressure
  • T+02’21” – first stage will shut down its engine
  • T+02’24” – separation of the first and second stage
  • T+02’32” – engine of the second stage will start to operate
  • T+02’42” – beginning of the boostback burn of the first stage after flipping the rocket
  • T+06’31” – first stagewill perform boost to reduce speed and stabilize flight
  • T+07’38” –  first stage will start engine again just before touchdown
  • T+09′:02″ – second stage is cutting off its engine, separation with Dragon
  • T+09’37” – Dragon will start its way to ISS and open its solar arrays 3 minutes later.