The next SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to visit the International Space Station will launch next Saturday (Aug. 28), and if you're an early-bird you can watch it all online.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Dragon CRS-23 cargo ship for NASA from Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. Liftoff is set for 3:37 a.m. EDT (0837 GMT), so be ready to wake up extra early (or just stay up super late) if you want to watch it. The launch will be carried live on this page courtesy of NASA Television, SpaceX's YouTube channel, as well as their respective social media channels. NASA's webcast will begin at 3:15 a.m. EDT (0815 GMT).
NASA and SpaceX will hold two press conferences ahead the launch that you can watch online. A science teleconference on the cargo riding on Dragon CRS-23 is set for Monday (Aug. 23) at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). You can listen in on this page or on the NASA Live page (opens in new tab). On Friday, Aug. 27, you can watch a prelaunch briefing for the mission at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) on this page and NASA TV.
While in-person launch slots remain few and far between (and mostly for media) due to the pandemic, NASA will have a virtual experience for anyone who wants to watch Dragon fly. If you tune in, NASA says (opens in new tab) that you will receive "curated launch resources, notifications about interaction opportunities, and a virtual guest passport stamp (opens in new tab) following a successful launch." Make sure to register here (opens in new tab) first.
A typical Dragon spacecraft brings thousands of pounds of supplies, equipment and station hardware to the orbiting complex and then returns home filled with unneeded items along with experiments. (Dragon, unlike the Northrop Grumman has the ability to refrigerate items for a short time, allowing for things such as blood samples to come back to Earth for analysis.)
"The spacecraft will deliver a variety of NASA science investigations to the station, including a study on preventing and treating bone density loss, an investigation that could detect and mitigate vision disorders, and a new robotic arm demonstration that could reveal potential uses on Earth, including in disaster relief," NASA said (opens in new tab) of some of the station's anticipated science cargo.
"The capsule also will deliver materials including concrete, fiberglass composites, and substances that can offer protection against radiation to investigate how they respond to the harsh environment of space," the agency added.
In NASA's words (opens in new tab), here are some of the main science experiments:
- The APEX-08 experiment (opens in new tab) will study plants’ genetic responses to stress to identify key targets for genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity.
- The READI-FP (opens in new tab) experiment studies how bio-collagen and bioactive metabolites sourced from waste products in wine production could have potential protective effects on bone tissue during spaceflight.
- Retinal Diagnostics (opens in new tab) will test the potential to capture images of the human retina in space using a commercially available ophthalmology lens.
- The GITAI Robotic Arm Tech Demo (opens in new tab) will discuss the technology demonstration of a robotic arm designed to conduct common crew activities directed by teleoperations from Earth.
- MISSE-15 NASA (opens in new tab) will expose materials such as concrete, thin-film solar cells, and more to the harsh environment of space to test their performance and durability.
- The Faraday Research Facility (opens in new tab), a new tool for conducting small experiments in microgravity will host a study testing remote drug delivery (opens in new tab) as well as experiments designed by Girl Scouts.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.