Weather permitting, SpaceX will send just over two tons of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) this afternoon. The launch will be their sixth of twelve currently contracted re-supply missions for NASA.
The launch is scheduled for 4:33 pm (EST), and estimates show a 60% chance of the weather cooperating. If the launch is scrubbed, they’ll retry tomorrow at 4:10 pm (EST). Either way, you’ll be able to watch the launch live on SpaceX’s Livestream page.
Aside from the usual allotment of food, experiments, and other essential gear, this load of supplies will include a few extra goodies outside of the essentials. First of all, this launch will deliver the Arkyd 3 Reflight to the ISS. Arkyd is a small satellite that was developed and funded on Kickstarter. The Arkyd will do some science and whatnot in a few months, but part of the Kickstarter reward was the promise of space selfies, which will start to be fulfilled (thankfully) after the science gets done and they make a neat g… wait, that’s not right… there may or may not be cake celebrating their success. I have no way of confirming or denying the validity of the cake.
Anyways, in addition to the selfie-satellite, this supply run will also include the ISSpresso machine. The hope is that this technology will allow astronauts aboard the ISS to enjoy coffee, tea, and other hot beverages while hurtling around the Earth.
The experiments and technology getting delivered to the ISS may not even be the most exciting part of this launch. SpaceX is still intent on landing and re-using the first stage rocket on an autonomous landing platform in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, even if their first such attempt did not quite go according to plan. They’ve had an opportunity to make adjustments based on their observations during the first attempt, and have even improved their unmanned landing barge after a second landing attempt had to be scrubbed due to poor conditions in the water. While they didn’t actually land the first stage rocket on the barge during that attempt, SpaceX was successful in bringing the rocket straight down into the water, giving more hope that the third time (technically second time) will bear greater success.
Will you be watching the launch this afternoon? Do you expect that SpaceX will be able to land on their barge successfully? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.