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article imageFinal Block 4 Falcon 9 to launch cargo mission to ISS on Friday

By Karen Graham     Jun 28, 2018 in Technology
NASA and SpaceX officials have briefed reporters on tomorrow's launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Florida's Space Coast set for 5:42:42 a.m. EDT (0942:42 GMT) from Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad.
SpaceX will be launching a new resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), and in many ways, the launch will be historic. This will be the final flight of its Block 4 Falcon.
The Block 4 booster is officially named B1045 by SpaceX. It is not only the last one of its kind to fly but also the last to be commissioned. The rocket booster will be replaced with the more capable and reusable Block 5. This is all part of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's goal of rapid reusability - flying a single booster twice within a 24-hour time period.
One thing about tomorrow's mission, though. Both vehicles are flight-proven; with the Falcon 9's first stage having helped launch NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in April, while the Dragon flew a cargo mission to the space station in July 2016, according to a SpaceX spokesperson.
SpaceX s first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket rolls to its launch pad at NASA s Kennedy Space Center in Flo...
SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket rolls to its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in May, 2018.
SpaceX
The weather is looking good for the launch tomorrow, with just a 10 percent chance of a weather-related scrub. If anything forces a delay of the launch, the next opportunity is early Sunday morning (July 1).
Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX did say engineers are examining a potential issue with a thermal protection panel on the cargo capsule, which is already mounted on a Falcon 9 booster. A thermal analysis will allow engineers to find out if the shield will protect the capsule from the extreme heat during launch and re-entry.
The Dragon capsule is loaded with about 5,900 lbs. (2,700 kilograms) of supplies and scientific gear, including a floating droid with a face called CIMON, an astronaut assistance system.
CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN) is a mobile and autonomous assistance system designed to a...
CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN) is a mobile and autonomous assistance system designed to aid astronauts with their everyday tasks on the ISS.
AirBus
“In short, CIMON will be the first AI-based mission and flight assistance system,” said Manfred Jaumann, Head of Microgravity Payloads from Airbus. “We are the first company in Europe to carry a free flyer, a kind of flying brain, to the ISS and to develop artificial intelligence for the crew on board the space station.”
Another science project entails an investigation of nanotube-growth physics, as well as an instrument designed to monitor the health of Earth vegetation from space. The cargo is expected to arrive at the space station on Monday morning, July 2.
More about Spacex, Falcon 9, block 4, Block 5 Falcon, cargo mission
 
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