Ground crews hoisted a Falcon 9 rocket upright on its launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday for an engine test-firing and final cargo loading before liftoff Saturday on a resupply voyage to the International Space Station ending a two-month SpaceX launch drought. Late Tuesday night, SpaceX hauled the Falcon 9 rocket out of its hangar near pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, propelled by a reused first stage booster.The launcher was then erected vertically atop the beachfront compound on Wednesday.
Wednesday evening, the Falcon 9 rocket and its Cargo Dragon payload, 215 feet (65 meters) tall, went through a rehearsal countdown. At 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0100 GMT Thursday), SpaceX’s launch team loaded densified, super-chilled kerosene and liquid oxygen into the two-stage rocket and lighted its nine Merlin 1D main engines for 10 seconds for a pre-flight test-firing.SpaceX expects to clear the autonomous cargo mission for launch at 3:37 a.m. EDT (0737 GMT) Saturday, assuming engineers discover no issues in a post-test data check. It will be SpaceX’s 21st Falcon 9 launch of the year, and the first since June 30, a historically highly long gap between missions.
A tiny robotic arm from GITAI Japan Inc. will be used to showcase in-space duties that may lead to the creation of future robots to help humans on long-duration space trips. Inside the commercial Bishop airlock-owned Nanoracks, the arm will perform its demonstrations, including switch and cable operations and in-space assembly tests. According to GITAI, some duties will be autonomous, while others will be teleoperated from Nanoracks’ Houston location.