This afternoon NASA held a pre-launch briefing for tomorrow's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon spacecraft launch to the International Space Station on the COTS-2 demo flight.
During the mission, Dragon must perform a series of complex tasks, each presenting significant technical challenges (The timeline could change):
- Day 1 / Launch Day: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches a Dragon spacecraft into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
- Day 2: Dragon orbits Earth as it travels toward the International Space Station.
- Day 3: Dragon's sensors and flight systems are subject to a series of complicated tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station; these tests include maneuvers and systems checks that see the vehicle come within 1.5 miles of the
- Day 4: NASA decides if Dragon is allowed to attempt to berth with the station. If so, Dragon approaches; it is captured by station's robotic arm and attached to the station. This requires extreme precision even as both Dragon and station orbit the earth every 90
- Day 5 - TBD: Astronauts open Dragon's hatch, unload supplies and fill Dragon with return cargo.
- TBD: After approximately two weeks, Dragon is detached from the station and returns to Earth, landing in the Pacific, hundreds of miles west of Southern California.