spacex to resume flight to iss with inflatable space habitat
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
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Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
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SpaceX to resume flight to ISS with inflatable space habitat

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Egypt Today, egypt today SpaceX to resume flight to ISS with inflatable space habitat

US space firm SpaceX
Washington - XINHUA

US space firm SpaceX is expected to resume its resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, carrying aboard an experimental inflatable space habitat that might be crucial for future deep space explorations.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is targeting liftoff on the company's Falcon 9 rocket at 4:43 p.m. local time(2043 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This is the California-based company's eighth cargo mission to the ISS. It also marked the first flight of Dragon to the ISS since June, when the Falcon 9 rocket exploded about two minutes after liftoff.

As usual, Spacex will attempt to land the Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.

The company achieved one successful soft landing on a land-based pad at Cape Canaveral in December last year, but its four previous droneship landing attempts all failed.

"I certainly hope we're going to nail the landing this time," said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president for flight reliability, during a pre-launch press conference.

Among the almost 7,000 pounds (3,200 kilograms) of items inside the Dragon spacecraft is the 3,100-pound (1,400-kilogram) Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), a 17.8-million-U.S.-dollar project that will be attached to the ISS to test the use of an inflatable space habitat in microgravity.

"It is the future," said Kirk Shireman, manager of NASA's ISS program. "Humans will be using these kinds of modules as we move further and further off the planet, and actually as we inhabit low Earth orbit."

According to NASA, inflatable habitats greatly decrease the amount of transport volume at launch for future space missions, and take up less room on a rocket, but once set up, provide additional volume for living and working.

Shireman said the company that developed BEAM, Bigelow Aerospace, launched two inflatable modules about 10 years ago using Russian rockets but this will be the first time humans will interact with such a module.

After being attached to the ISS, BEAM will be filled with air to expand it for a two-year test period in which ISS astronauts will conduct a series of tests to validate overall performance and capability of expandable habitats.

BEAM is 5.7 feet (1.7 meters) long and 7.75 feet (2.4 meters) in diameter when packed; 12 feet (3.7 meters) long and 10.5 feet (3.2 meters) in diameter when expanded, with 565 cubic feet (16 cubic meters) of interior volume.

Bigelow Aerospace is also developing a new inflatable module called B330, which is 20 times larger than BEAM, and hopes to put two B330s together in orbit into a private space station in 2020, Robert Bigelow, the company's president, told reporters.

"We are in the early phase of a new kind of spacecraft that offers a lot of promise," Bigelow said.

The cargo also included new experiments that will help investigators study muscle atrophy and bone loss in space, seek insight into the interactions of particle flows at the nanoscale level and use protein crystal growth in microgravity to help design new drugs.

SpaceX is one of two U.S. companies that provide ISS cargo services for NASA. The other company is Orbital ATK, whose Cygnus capsule was launched to the ISS on March 22.

It's the first time that both companies' cargo ships will be docked at the orbiting lab simultaneously.

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spacex to resume flight to iss with inflatable space habitat spacex to resume flight to iss with inflatable space habitat



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