SpaceX cargo launch slips to Friday, allowing for additional rocket inspections

SpaceX cargo launch slips to Friday, allowing for additional rocket inspections

But it is not the first recycled rocket: NASA's space shuttle was the first reusable spacecraft, offering 135 missions and each time shedding only its fuel tank.

The company confirmed multiple reports that the flight would be pushed back until Friday in a tweet Tuesday evening, blaming the delay on the discovery of unexpected particles in the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage fuel system.

While the mission will be the 13th in SpaceX's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA, this flight does mark a first: SpaceX will use a previously-flown first stage on this mission, which first launched another Dragon spacecraft to the space station six months earlier.

Discussions about using a reflown booster on a CRS mission started almost a year ago, said Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX.

Location: Launch Complex 40.

Tune in starting at 11:15 a.m. ET tomorrow, as NASA begins their live coverage of SpaceX's Dragon CRS-13 cargo mission, which is scheduled to lift-off from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 40 at 11:46 a.m. ET. SpaceX then announced late Monday evening that it was postponing the launch to today to have more time for last-minute checks.

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Assuming the robotic cargo mission takes off Friday, the Dragon capsule should arrive at the space station Sunday.

Wednesday's planned mission is SpaceX's 13th trip to supply the space station in a series of cargo runs that began in October 2012.

A successful launch on Wednesday will also return Launch Complex 40 to operational status, which was heavily damaged in a September 2016 Falcon 9 explosion.

The fresh residents, led by Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov, will fly to the station inside the Russian Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft. Initially, the mission was supposed to launch on December 8. Shkaplerov, a veteran Russian cosmonaut, will be joined by two spaceflight rookies: NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese flight engineer Norishige Kanai.

"We'll be anxious, but I wouldn't say a higher level of anxiety for this reflown booster than for a new booster", he said.

Other experiments include Plant Gravity Perception, which aims to study how plants sense and respond to gravity; Glucowizzard, an implantable blood glucose monitor that will have its accuracy studied on the station; and Space Debris Sensor, an externally mounted unit that will spend up to three years monitoring small debris impacts into the ISS.

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