Tampa (AFP) – SpaceX is poised Monday to send supplies to astronauts on the International Space Station aboard a rocket booster and a cargo ship that have both flown before.
The liftoff of the recycled Falcon 9 rocket and unmanned Dragon cargo ship is scheduled for 4:30 pm (2030 GMT) from a NASA launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“This is the second resupply mission for NASA where we are not only flying a flight-proven booster but we are also flying a Dragon that has already been to the International Space Station,” SpaceX’s Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon mission management, told reporters Sunday.
“This booster launched the CRS-12 mission back in August of last year, and this Dragon flew the CRS-8 mission to the space station in April of 2016.”
SpaceX’s first such double-recycle resupply mission for NASA flew to the orbiting outpost in December 2017.
The effort is part of the California-based company’s mission to lower the cost of space flight by re-using costly, multimillion dollar components that typically have been discarded after each launch.
“What is really neat about this is it is becoming the norm,” Jensen said.
SpaceX will not attempt to land the tall portion of the rocket, known as the booster or first stage, after launch, she said.
Monday’s trip marks SpaceX’s 14th resupply mission for NASA.
The capsule is packed with about 5,800 pounds (2,600 kilograms) of food and supplies and science experiments, including one to study thunderstorms and another to test drug development in space.
Weather for Monday’s launch attempt was 80 percent favorable, NASA said. If the liftoff is delayed for any reason, another launch window open Tuesday at 4:08 pm (2008 GMT).
The cargo ship is scheduled to latch onto the space station Wednesday morning, and will stay in orbit for about a month before returning to Earth.