SpaceX realign Dragon’s CRS-3 launch to March 16

April 27, 2015 – 07:33 am
Dragon’s next trip to the International Space Station (ISS) is now targeting a launch date of NET (No Earlier Than) March 16, following consultation between SpaceX and NASA. This will be Dragon’s first ride on the upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1, with the launch tracking a T-0 of 04:41 Eastern from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40).


CRS-3/SpX-3:

Both Orbital’s Cygnus and Dragon were initially provided with a December, 2013 placeholder for their resupply runs to the International Space Station (ISS).

However, Orbital’s Cygnus gained the first opportunity, as SpaceX opted to aim for the early 2014 opportunity afforded to them in the busy Visiting Vehicle schedule.

Z3Due to the continuous merry-go-round of the VV schedule, only a handful of launch and berthing windows are available to spacecraft on missions to the ISS.

This situation became more complex as Cygnus was delayed until January, due to the ISS cooling issue that required two spacewalks to mitigate over the Christmas period. As a result, Dragon’s CRS-3/SpX-3 mission was provisionally pushed back to February.

It is understood this date was never a firm target, due to ongoing considerations relating to Dragon’s EOM (End Of Mission) requirement of returning to Earth in daylight – per its recovery operations.

A target later in the month was always more realistic, which also catered for a flow that had been slightly delayed by a slower-than-planned delivery of the Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage, due to the very poor weather in the United States so far this year.

Technically, SpaceX could have supported a new NET as early as March 12. However, the Station’s Visiting Vehicle schedule discussions recommended March 16 as the opening launch target.

Dragon through the Cuploa Window, vla L2Based on Falcon 9 and her Dragon passenger launching on the 16th, Station notes provided to the ISS crew show they should be prepared to ingress the spacecraft on March 19, prior to working berthed ops in removing the array of cargo Dragon is providing.

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Hatch closure is timelined for April 17, prior to unberthing and splashdown.

The SpX-3 flight will carry a full launch and return complement of 1, 580kg/3, 476lb of payload, an increase from the previous limit of 800kg, afforded by the increased upmass capabilities of the Falcon 9 v1.1.

For launch, Dragon will carry a record of one GLACIER and two MERLIN freezers for transporting ISS experiment samples.

The CRS-3 mission will also involve the delivery of a replacement Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), allowing for the return of a faulty suit on the same vehicle when it returns to Earth.

Dragon’s spacesuit role relates to the issue suffered by Luca Parmitano during the early termination of EVA-23 on July 16, 2013.

His suit, EMU 3011, suffered a water leak, leading to a lengthy investigation into the suits, along with some troubleshooting and replacement hardware being sent up on Progress and Cygnus.

Plans were made for Dragon to return the suit back to Earth for investigation, via a specially made rack. However, it will be a different suit that will head home on the SpaceX vehicle.

Z77 Luca drinking water from helmet during EVA-23

Source: www.nasaspaceflight.com

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