SpaceX Launches Space Station Cargo Mission – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch SpaceX’s 25th resupply mission to the International Space Station. follow us on Twitter.

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SpaceX’s 25th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station lifted off Thursday at 8:44 p.m. EDT (0044 GMT Friday) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon capsule towards the station with nearly three tons of cargo.

Launch from Pad 39A at Kennedy occurred at exactly 20:44:22 EDT (0044:22 GMT), about the moment Earth’s rotation brings the launch site below the Space Station’s orbit.

There was a 70 percent chance of favorable weather for Thursday’s launch, according to the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. The main weather issues concerned cumulus clouds, which could pose a risk for lightning and flight through precipitation.

But the weather didn’t allow for the Falcon 9 to lift off from Florida’s Space Coast on Thursday.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 flew northeast from Kennedy, powered by nine Merlin engines producing 1.7 million pounds of thrust. The rocket shut down its first stage booster about two and a half minutes into the mission, allowing the booster to descend to land on a drone ship about 186 miles (300 kilometers) in the Atlantic Ocean, about seven and a half minutes after liftoff .

The booster, tail number B1067, completed its fifth flight on the CRS-25 mission. It had previously launched the CRS-22 cargo mission last June, launched two NASA crew missions to the station and launched Turkey’s Turksat 5B communications satellite.

The Dragon spacecraft was released from the Falcon 9 upper stage about 12 minutes after liftoff to begin the day-and-a-half journey to the International Space Station. The CRS-25 mission’s Dragon cargo pod departed for its third flight to the station.

The SpaceX launch team, stationed in a firing room at a launch control center in Kennedy, began loading supercooled, compressed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellant into the 65-meter-tall Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium also flowed into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. For the final seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s main Merlin engines were thermally conditioned for flight through a process known as “chilldown.” The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems were also configured for launch.

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket roll out on Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida before the launch of the company’s 25th cargo mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

With a launch on time Thursday evening, the Dragon cargo ship is scheduled to automatically dock with the space station’s Harmony module at 11:20 am EDT (1520 GMT) on Saturday.

Astronauts at the space station open hatches and unpack supplies, experiments and other equipment stowed in the Dragon capsule’s pressurized room. At the end of the mission, the reusable capsule will undock from the station and head for a parachute-assisted landing off the coast of Florida in mid-August with several tons of cargo.

The cargo ship launched with around 5,800 pounds of supplies and payloads, including a NASA climate instrument to be mounted outside the space station.

The Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation or EMIT instrument was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It will be attached to a mounting post outside the space station to measure the mineral content of the world’s desert regions, the source of global dust storms that can affect climate and weather around the world.

The data collected by the instrument will help scientists learn more about how dust entering the atmosphere from deserts affects Earth’s ecosystems and human health.

“This is going to be a very busy mission for us,” said Dana Weigel, NASA assistant program manager for the space station. “It’s packed with a lot of science. The planned duration is about 33 days.”

The mission was originally scheduled to launch in early June, but SpaceX delayed the flight to fix a steam leak in the Dragon spacecraft’s propulsion system and to replace the capsule’s four main parachutes as a precautionary measure in case the parachute material was damaged by the toxic propellant leak.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1067.5)

PAYLOAD: Cargo Dragon (CRS-25)

STARTING PLACE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Fla


START TIME: 20:44:22 EDT (0044:22 GMT on July 15))

WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of upper level winds; Low risk of adverse booster recovery conditions

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” east of Jacksonville, Florida


TARGET ORBIT: 118 miles by 130 miles (190 kilometers by 210 kilometers), 51.6 degrees inclination


  • T+00:00: Take off
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:27: First Stage Main Engine Shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:30: Stage separation
  • T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:43: First stage boost backburn ignition (three engines)
  • T+03:15: First stage boost backburn cutoff
  • T+05:45: First stage combustion ignition (three engines)
  • T+05:59: First stage combustion shutdown
  • T+07:06: First stage landing burn (one engine)
  • T+07:33: First stage landing
  • T+08:37: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 1)
  • T+11:49: Cargo Dragon separation


  • 164th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 172nd launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 5. Falcon 9 booster B1067 launch
  • 143. Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • 51. SpaceX launch from Pad 39A
  • 145. Start overall from Pad 39A
  • 106. Flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • 5. Launch of the improved Cargo Dragon
  • 25th SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station
  • 30. Falcon 9 launch in 2022
  • 30th launch of SpaceX in 2022
  • 30th orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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