Private space transport corporation, SpaceX, officially announced yesterday that the Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft can launch on March 30 without repairs. This follows after an analysis revealed contaminants inside the ship’s unpressurized trunk pose no additional risk to optical communications and imaging payloads destined for the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff of the Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket is targeted for 10:50 p. m. EDT from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad.
Last slotted in for March 16, the launch was postponed by the SpaceX company due to issues noted by engineers concerning petroleum stains on thermal blankets. They were worried that the highly sensitive components on the high-definition imaging camera as well as the optical communications experiment contained inside the Dragon spacecraft’s trunk could have been significantly contaminated.
Both the International Space Station’s engineering team and that of the Hawthorne, California-based Space X have since carefully reviewed and analyzed all available data and have determined that the Dragon “is fit to fly ‘as-is’.” All of the involved engineers have come to the conclusion that the specific “particular constituents” discovered the trunk of the Dragon spacecraft are in compliance with the prior specified environments levels. Therefore, they have reported that “there is no additional risk to the payloads.”
The Dragon spacecraft has a pressurized cabin which is used to store the majority of its loads including 271 pounds of spacewalk tools, 449 pounds of vehicle hardware, 1,049 pounds of crew supplies and 1,576 pounds of science and research equipment.
The Dragon will deliver approximately 2.4 tons of equipment to the space station. Proving it launches on March 30 the robotic spacecraft will arrive at the international outpost on April 1 as scheduled. Once the Dragon arrives, the crew of the ISS will use of the space station’s Canadian robotic arm and Dextre robot to remove the two large payload containers and store them there.
(Image courtesy of SpaceX)