Earlier this week, SpaceX rolled out their Falcon 9 rocket out of the hangar at LC-39a for the first time in almost 2 months. They raised it vertical with their new Cargo Dragon 2 spacecraft and conducted a successful hold-down firing of the 9 Merlin engines on the first stage, putting them on track to launch their CRS-23 mission early Saturday at 3:37am.
The Falcon 9 will liftoff with Dragon from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida en-route to the International Space Station carrying supplies and experiments for the crew on board. The first stage on this rocket has been launched 3 times, supporting the Crew 1 and Crew 2 launches, and the SXM-8 mission. The first stage is expected to land on SpaceX's new droneship "A Shortfall of Gravitas" located in the Atlantic Ocean. Dragon will autonomously dock to the International Space Station at roughly 11am EDT.
Cargo Dragon will be launching with over 4800lbs of cargo to help understand a prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars. One of the experiments on board to help with these endeavors is APEX-08, which will help understand how plants grow in microgravity and engineer future plants more suited to these conditions. Another experiment, READI FP, will study the effects of microgravity and radiation on bone tissue and test substances which may help protect Crew on long-duration missions. Those are just a couple of the many experiments launching Saturday morning, to read more on the many other exciting experiments, click here.