March 14 at 8:30 pm E.T. from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center
Yesterday’s 50% favorable forecast improved to 80% as the sun rose this morning over the SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon as it sat vertical on LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Packed with almost 6300 pounds of fresh food, hardware for the space station, and research experiments the cargo dragon capsule will take roughly twenty-four hours to reach the ISS where once docked the astronauts aboard will take delivery of the space freighter’s precious cargo. Once docked, and the hatches are open, astronauts will begin unpacking cargo and also use the Canadian built robotic arm, to reach out and grab a half-ton package of science and technology demo experiments which are sponsored by the U.S. military’s Space Test Program.
This mission, CRS-27 will continue a busy schedule for the seven persons currently inside the orbital lab. Just weeks ago, a SpaceX Crew Dragon launched with four more astronauts which learned their new roles from the members of Crew-5. Crew-5 then undocked from the space station and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on March 11, returning from their six months stay at the International Space Station. In the coming months, NASA and their commercial partners are planning to send two short duration missions to the station. The first being Boeings Starliner capsule, and the second that of Axiom-2, a fully private mission with two Americans, and two Saudi Arabian space travelers. Both these missions plan to keep their crews onboard the station for ten days each. An uncrewed Northrop Grumman Cygnus supply ship is also set to launch to the space station from Wallops Island, Virginia later this spring, while the Russian space agency plans to return a damaged Soyuz capsule back to Earth on March 28.
According to Meghan Everett, NASA’s deputy chief scientist for the space station stated that the CRS-27 mission will launch equipment to support about sixty new scientific investigations and technology demonstrations. Most of the payloads are packed inside the Dragon’s pressurized cabin, which also includes a shipment of fresh foods. Apples, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, and cheeses will soon be in the hands of awaiting hungry astronauts.
When CRS-27 reaches its conclusion, the capsule will undock from the station and return to Earth, splashing down off the coast of Florida in mid-April. It will bring back numerous research specimens, equipment which requires refurbishment, and hardware that is no longer needed onboard the space station.