by Jeff Cunningham
SpaceX will launch its third Dragon spacecraft this year to the International Space Station on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 1231 EST, delivering thousands of pounds of science equipment and supplies for the astronaut crew. The engines to be used in the launch completed a successful test-fire on Thursday afternoon.
Chief among the payloads will be the new Cosmic-Ray Energetics and Mass
investigation (CREAM) apparatus, which will be attached to the Japanese external “porch” on its laboratory module. It’s hoped that, over the course of its three-year mission, it will provide scientists with a clearer picture of the structure of our universe.
Also among the science payloads being delivered is an experiment to grow protein LRRK-2. It’s long been known that protein crystals grow orders of magnitude faster in microgravity, and with greater crystalline strength. This particular type has been identified as being correlated to the pathology of Parkinson’s Disease; so it is hoped that this experiment, developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and other partners, will help scientists understand the disease itself better.
Additionally, this flight itself will be historic in that it will be the last time that a factory-new Dragon craft will be flown for some time. Eventually, of course, they’ll have to make more, but from here on out, the plan is to fly used, saving the company, NASA, and American taxpayers millions–if not billions–of dollars.
Watch the launch live-streamed with us on YouTube or at http://www.spacex.com.