SpaceX cargo successfully launches cargo to ISS Thursday

Published: Updated:
FILE: SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 2019 – Photo courtesy of SpaceX.

Launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo ship bound for the International Space Station launched night. It was initially scrubbed Wednesday because of thunderstorms and thick clouds near the Cape Canaveral launch pad.

How to watch the SpaceX launch Thursday

  • What: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch and Dragon cargo ship
  • Date: July 25, 2019
  • Time: 6:01:56 p.m. ET (no launch window)
  • Location: Launch complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
  • Live stream: Watch the online stream in player above or click HERE.

The flight marks SpaceX’s 18th cargo run to the space station. The Dragon supply ship atop the Falcon 9 is making its third trip to the lab complex, this time loaded with 5,000 pounds of crew supplies, equipment and high-tech science gear, including a low-tech container of bright green Nickelodeon “slime” for educational outreach.

Also on board: refurbished spacesuit components and a 1,200-pound commercial crew ship docking mechanism to replace one lost in a 2015 Falcon 9 launch failure.

After installation during a planned August spacewalk, international docking adapter No. 3 will provide a second U.S. port for visiting crew ships being built by Boeing and SpaceX that fly themselves all the way in for docking. Two other NASA ports are available for SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and Japanese cargo ships that rely on the station’s robot arm for capture and berthing.

“We are very excited about getting IDA-3 on board,” said Jason August, IDA project manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This is critical in our path to allowing our commercial partners to ferry crew members to and from the ISS.”

Liftoff from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was targeted for 6:24 p.m., the moment Earth’s rotation carried the booster into the plane of the space station’s orbit. SpaceX planned to attempt recovery of the Falcon 9’s first stage, which first flew in May, with a landing back at the Air Force station about eight minutes after launch.

But afternoon thunderstorms, thick clouds and electrically active anvil clouds blossomed across Florida “space coast” throughout the afternoon, violating launch commit criteria. At the T-minus 30-second mark, mission managers ordered a 24-hour scrub, delaying takeoff to 6:01 p.m. Thursday. Forecasters expected a 70% chance of more bad weather.

If the rocket fails to to get off the ground Thursday, launch could be delayed to around Aug. 1 because of the station’s orbit, the Falcon 9’s ability to chase it down and to avoid conflicts with a Russian cargo launch July 31.

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