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SpaceX set to launch space station supply mission from Cape Canaveral Friday

The lettuce experiment on Earth in the NASA Press Room at Kennedy Space Center, April 13, 2014.
The lettuce experiment on Earth in the NASA Press Room at Kennedy Space Center, April 13, 2014.
Mike Royer

SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station Friday afternoon from the Florida Spacecoast. The launch of the resupply mission aboard a Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for 3:25 Friday afternoon from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A launch set for Monday was cancelled due to a helium leak in the rocket. NASA says the Dragon cargo ship is taking nearly 5,000 pounds of “…science and research, crew supplies, vehicle hardware and spacewalk tools…” to the ISS crew. Over 150 scientific experiments are planned for Expeditions 39 and 40 at the space station.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, April 13, 2014.
NASA TV

Robot to get its legs

One of the items launching Friday afternoon will be the legs for the Robonaut robot aboard the space station. The feet for the robot are designed to clamp to objects, so the robot can freely work with its hands, and not have to use them to hold on to objects like humans do. NASA plans to use the robot for repairs outside the space station in the future. In the meantime, astronauts are planning to make a spacewalk to replace a backup relay system on the space station next Wednesday, April 23. The main relay system is operating normally, and NASA says it is involved in external cooling, the Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, and the Mobile Transporter rail car on the station.

Lettuce experiment

Also launching aboard Dragon Friday will be a lettuce-growing experiment. However, after the plants sprout on the space station, they will be brought back to Earth and checked for bacteria first. But if they prove to be safe to eat, crew on future space station missions may be able to grow their own salads in space.

You can watch coverage of the Falcon-9 launch Friday at 2:15 p.m. on NASA TV.

Click here to visit the SpaceX website.

Click here to visit the NASA TV website.

You can contact this writer at mroyer5@yahoo.com