SpaceX is set to launch Monday afternoon from Florida, in the latest mission for NASA to send supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.
Elon Musk's rocket company will live stream the 4:30 p.m. ET launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with coverage expected to begin at about 4:10 p.m. ET. Delayed from early February, the company's 14th Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA (or CRS-14, for short) is now ready.
The mission will launch using two major parts that have been to the space station before: the first stage booster and the capsule. The largest part of the Falcon 9 rocket, the booster launched the company's CRS-12 mission last August, before returning to Earth and landing. The SpaceX Dragon capsule has been refurbished after it was launched on the company's CRS-8 mission in April 2016.
@SpaceX: Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for today's resupply mission to the @Space_Station are both flight-proven.
While SpaceX says it will not attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster again, there remains the possibility that Musk's company will use the expendable flight to further test landing technologies. As SpaceX brings about a new variation of the Falcon 9 booster, known as "Block 5," older models are being discarded through expendable missions.
In January, SpaceX tested its what Musk called a "very high retrothrust landing" in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX told media that it attempted to retrieve the floating rocket but was unable, due to the booster breaking apart before the recovery effort was complete.
@ElonMusk: This rocket was meant to test very high retrothrust landing in water so it didn't hurt the droneship, but amazingly it has survived. We will try to tow it back to shore.
SpaceX is fresh off Friday's Iridium-5 mission, launched from the central coast of California. Once complete, CRS-14 will be SpaceX's seventh successful mission this year.
The Dragon spacecraft for CRS-14 is stocked with nearly 3 tons of supplies and experiments for the space station's crew. The capsule will arrive at the ISS on Wednesday, connecting to the station using a robotic arm. About a month later, Dragon will bring back almost 2 tons of equipment and completed experiments, landing in the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX is one of two U.S. companies delivering supplies to the ISS under a NASA contract. Orbital ATK, with its Cygnus capsule, is the only other company actively resupplying the station. But the company suffered setbacks in 2014, when the company's third resupply mission to the ISS failed after the rocket exploded above the launch pad. Orbital ATK continued fulfilling missions by putting Cygnus on United Launch Alliance rockets and won a second round of resupply missions from NASA in 2016, alongside SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation.
Orbital ATK shareholders approved a $7.8 billion buyout from Northrop Grumman in November, with the deal expected to close in the first half of this year. The acquisition offers a boost to the defense giant's rocket business, with Orbital ATK's orbital vehicles and missile defense systems helping to make Northrop's offerings more robust.