NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. It’s vision is “To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.””>NASA commercial cargo launch provider SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.”>SpaceX is targeting 5:06 a.m. EST Tuesday, December 21, to launch its 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew. Live coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Monday, December 20.
Dragon’s 6,500 pounds of cargo include a variety of NASA investigations, such as a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. There are also experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program and an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.
About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. Arrival to the station is planned for Wednesday, December 22. Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn monitoring operations from the station.
The spacecraft is expected to spend about a month attached to the orbiting outpost before it returns to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down off the coast of Florida.
Full coverage of this mission is as follows (all times Eastern):
Tuesday, December 21
- 4:45 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 5:06 a.m. launch
Wednesday, December 22
- 3 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins for Dragon docking to space station
- 4:30 a.m. – Docking
NASA TV launch coverage
Live coverage of the launch on NASA TV will begin at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, December 21. For downlink information, schedules, and links to streaming video, visit:
On launch day, a “clean feed” of the launch without NASA TV commentary will be carried on the NASA TV media channel.
NASA website launch coverage
Launch day coverage of the mission will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and blog updates beginning no earlier than 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, December 21, as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. Follow countdown coverage on our launch blog at:
Attend the launch virtually
Members of the public can register to attend this launch virtually. Registrants will receive mission updates and activities by email. NASA’s virtual guest program for this mission also includes curated launch resources, notifications about related opportunities, and a virtual guest passport stamp following a successful launch.