Weather iffy for SpaceX’s 18th Dragon cargo launch Wednesday evening
The launch time for the company’s 18th resupply mission is 6:24 p.m., but could come up to five minutes later should a problem occur. The Air Force has pegged the chance for good launch weather at only 30 percent because of expected storm systems with lightning and thick clouds.
The Dragon spacecraft, riding on top of the rocket, is to deliver supplies, science equipment and a new docking mechanism that will be used for spacecraft carrying people. The rocket is to lift off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, adjacent to Kennedy Space Center.
The mission will fly for two days before it is to dock Friday. NASA astronaut Nick Hague, who is on board the space station, is set to retrieve the spacecraft during the docking maneuver.
The cargo launch would come four days after three astronauts new to the space station lifted off Saturday from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They made the voyage in 6 hours, 20 minutes.
Among the private companies sending 17 research projects to the space station are Goodyear, Nickelodeon, drugmaker AstraZeneca and nScrypt, an Orlando company that is sending a 3D printer to space to make human tissue.
The ISS National Lab is sponsoring 25 separate payloads on SpaceX CRS-18, a new high for a resupply mission. The lab says the demand for space-based research and development continues to increase as more companies try new science experiments in a microgravity environment.
The nScrypt experiment “could serve as a first step toward achieving the ability to fabricate entire human organs in space,” according to NASA.
Better tires is the goal of Goodyear’s experiment, which will explore ways to improve tire manufacturing and performance by creating silica fillers in microgravity, potentially yielding results not possible on Earth.
AstraZeneca is sending its second payload to the station, this time studying therapies to treat cancer and immune diseases.