NASA, SpaceX and their international partners gave the ok Sunday for the launch of the SpaceX-3 mission to the International Space Station Monday afternoon, despite some equipment problems on the space station. The go-ahead followed a meeting of flight controllers, engineers and managers who decided that “…the station possesses enough redundancy…” to proceed with the launch. The concern came after a routine check Friday revealed that a backup computer command relay box on the station’s S0 truss was down. The main relay box, or multiplexer, is operating normally. NASA says the devices “...provide commanding…” to the ISS external cooling system, the Solar Alpha Rotary joints, and the Mobile Transporter rail car, plus also provide information about other truss systems.
Spacewalk planned to make repairs
Mission managers also gave the ok for plans for a spacewalk repair mission, possibly next week by two of the Expedition 39 crew. The spacewalkers would install a spare relay box currently stored on the space station. A fan pump separator will also be repaired on one of the spacesuits before the repair spacewalk.
Launch set for Monday afternoon
The Dragon space station cargo spacecraft will liftoff aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 4:58 Monday afternoon. The Dragon’s cargo includes almost 5,000 pounds of supplies plus payloads headed for the International Space Station. The Dragon craft will then also return to Earth later with around 3,600 pounds of “…crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, biotechnology, and space station hardware.” SpaceX notes that the Dragon craft is the only space station cargo craft that can also return “…a significant amount of supplies back to Earth, including experiments.”
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