SpaceX launch to the International Space Station
Falcon 9 liftoff.
Thursday, July 25, SpaceX launched its eighteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-18) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Dragon separated from Falcon 9’s second stage about nine minutes after liftoff and will attach to the space station on Saturday, July 27.
The Dragon spacecraft supporting the CRS-18 mission previously supported the CRS-6 mission in April 2015 and the CRS-13 mission in December 2017. Following stage separation, SpaceX recovered Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Dragon was filled with approximately 5,000 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur onboard the orbiting laboratory.
CRS-18 is the eighteenth of up to 20 missions to the International Space Station that SpaceX will fly for NASA under the first CRS contract. In January 2016, NASA announced that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft were selected to resupply the space station through 2024 as part of a second Commercial Resupply Services contract award. Under the CRS contracts, SpaceX has restored the United States’ capability to deliver and return significant amounts of cargo, including live plants and animals, to and from the orbiting laboratory.
Crew Dragon, a variant of the Dragon spacecraft designed to transport U.S-based crew to and from the space station, completed its first demonstration mission in March 2019.
International Space Station crew members will use the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6- meter) robotic arm to capture Dragon and attach it to the orbiting laboratory on Friday, July 26.
Dragon will return to Earth with more than 3,300 pounds of cargo after an approximately four-week stay at the International Space Station. About five hours after Dragon leaves the space station, it will conduct its deorbit burn, which lasts up to 10 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes for Dragon to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.