Artist rendering of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft being berthed to ISS
|Mission type||ISS resupply|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||February 2014 (planned)|
|Rocket||Falcon 9 v1.1|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral SLC-40|
|Berthing at ISS|
|Berthing port||Harmony nadir|
SpaceX CRS-3 is a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, contracted to NASA, currently manifested for launch in February 2014. It will be the fifth flight for SpaceX's uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft and the third SpaceX operational mission contracted to NASA under a Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Launch schedule history
As of 16 March 2013[update], the launch was scheduled 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 slipped to no earlier than January 2014, but then in September it was moved to December.
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 KickSat CubeSat which will further deploy 250 cracker-sized KickSat Sprite picosatellites. 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).
Post-mission launch vehicle testing
In an arrangement unusual for launch vehicles the first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will conduct a propulsive-return over-water test after the second stage with the Dragon CRS-3 payload separates from the booster. This will be the second high-altitude post-mission test of this type, after the first test on Falcon 9 Flight 6 in September 2013. That test was successful in gathering significant engineering test data, but the booster stage was not recovered.
After the three-minute boost phase of the 29 September 2013 launch, the booster stage attitude was reversed, and three of the nine engines refired at high altitude, as planned, to initiate the deceleration and controlled descent trajectory to the surface of the ocean. The first phase of the test " worked well and the first stage re-entered safely." However, the stage began to roll due to aerodynamic forces during the descent through the atmosphere, and the roll rate exceeded the capabilities of the booster attitude control system (ACS) to null it out. The fuel in the tanks "centrifuged" to the outside of the tank and the single engine involved in the low-altitude deceleration maneuver shut down. "SpaceX has fished out debris [of] the first stage from the ocean."
Musk indicated in September 2013 that the next attempt to recover a Falcon 9 first stage will be on the fourth flight of the upgraded F9 v1.1 rocket (Falcon 9 Flight 10), CRS-3.
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