The launch was notionally scheduled by NASA, as of November 2012[update], to be no earlier than 30 September 2013, with docking to the station occurring three days later on 2 October 2013.
As of 16 March 2013 (2013-03-16)[update], the launch was scheduled by NASA for no earlier than 28 November 2013, with docking to the station occurring three days later on 1 December 2013. By August 2013, the launch date had been moved to no earlier than January 2014, but then in September it was moved to February. As of January 23, the launch was rescheduled again to March 1, 2014, and then rescheduled to March 16 in early February. The several delays—from the nominal December 2013 date that had been in place since early 2013—have been mostly due to limited berthing windows in the ISS Visiting Vehicle schedule, and delays to both Orbital's Cygnus and SpaceX' Dragon from the December 2013 cooling issue on the ISS which required several spacewalks to mitigate.
NASA has contracted for the CRS-3 mission and therefore determines the primary payload. Among other NASA cargo, the SpaceX CRS-3 mission will be carrying an instrument to the Space Station called Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), which will demonstrate high-bandwidth space to ground laser communications. The second external payload launching on SpX-3 is the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) package, which consists of four commercial HD video cameras which will film the Earth from multiple different angles from the vantage.
In addition to the primary payload, a Dragon cargo capsule resupply space transport mission to the ISS, the CRS-3 Falcon 9 mission will deploy the KickSatCubeSat which will further deploy 250 cracker-sizedKickSatSpritepicosatellites. In addition, CRS-3 will also carry the ALL-STAR/THEIA, a 3U CubeSat from the Colorado Space Grant Consortium (CoSGC) and Lockheed Martin, the TechCube 1, a 3U CubeSat from NASA Goddard, LMRSat (or Low Mass Radio Science Transponder Satellite), a 2U CubeSat from JPL, and the Hermes-2, a 1U CubeSat from the Colorado Space Grant Consortium (CoSGC). Some CubeSats are a part of NASA ELaNa V manifest.