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About: SpaceX launch of NASA CRS-5 resupply mission to the International Space Station.
After five successful missions to the International Space Station, including four official resupply missions for NASA, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are set to liftoff from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for their fifth official Commercial Resupply (CRS) mission to the orbiting lab.
If all goes as planned, Dragon will arrive at the station approximately two days after liftoff. Dragon is expected to return to Earth four-and-a-half weeks later for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of southern California. Dragon is the only operational spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth, including experiments.
Background and Purpose
SpaceX CRS-5 is the fifth of at least 12 missions to the International Space Station that SpaceX will fly for NASA under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract. In December 2008, NASA announced that SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft had been selected to resupply the space station after the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Under the CRS contract, SpaceX has restored an American capability to deliver and return significant amounts of cargo, including live plants and animals, to and from the orbiting laboratory.
The Dragon spacecraft will be filled with more than 5,200 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 42 and 43. Science payloads will enable model organism research using fruit flies and will study flatworms to better understand wound healing in space.
One science payload is the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), a laser remote sensing experiment that will orbit on the International Space Station. CATS will characterize and measure the worldwide distribution of clouds and aerosols: tiny particles that make up haze, dust, air pollutants and smoke. Knowing where aerosols are in the atmosphere can be critically important, as these particles can affect weather, climate, airplane safety, and human health. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, developed the instrument. For more on CATS, visit: www.nasa.gov/cats
The mission also delivers an IMAX camera for filming during four increments and tools that will be used in future spacewalks to prepare the station for the installation of the new international docking adapters. After four weeks at the space station, the spacecraft will return with over 3,600 pounds of cargo and packaging, including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, space station hardware and trash.