SpaceX and NASA prepare for 30th ISS resupply mission

NASA and SpaceX are preparing to launch the 30th resupply mission to the International Space Station no earlier than Thursday, March 21st, at 4:55 pm ET.

The Cargo Dragon capsule will send thousands of pounds of supplies and experiments to the ISS, helping maintain the orbiting outpost.

This will be the first mission from Space Launch Complex-40 to utilize the newly built Crew Access Tower. Sarah Walker, SpaceX Dragon mission management director, indicated that the tower is now fully approved for both Crew and Cargo launches from SLC-40.

Walker also said the Crew Access Tower was similar to the tower at Launch Complex-39A but with an upgraded elevator, fire safety, and a different emergency escape system so that instead of baskets down a zip line, a slide deploys and astronauts simply slide down the chute.

Here are a few highlights of some of the experiments flying aboard the CRS-30 mission.

APEX-09 – This will look at how microgravity affects two different types of grasses aboard the Space Station and how they capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

KILLICK-1 – A CubeSat that will use GNSS Reflectometry to measure sea ice thickness and, by using GNSS-R, will provide a cost-effective way to gather valuable data.

Multi-resolution Scanner (MRS) Payload for Astrobee — The three little free-floating robots aboard the ISS will receive a new payload to create 3D maps of the orbiting outpost’s interior. The technology could one day be used to help maintain a spacecraft without humans aboard.

As of writing, it is currently unknown which Falcon 9 will launch the CRS-30 mission. However, it will land back at Landing Zone 1 following its portion of the flight. The Cargo Dragon is C209, which last flew 373 days ago and is on its fourth mission to the International Space Station.

The current weather outlook is positive for a Thursday attempt with an 85% chance of acceptable weather conditions but if something were to prevent the launch, the 24 turnaround outlook shows only a 20% chance of acceptable weather.

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Richard Angle: Launch journalist, specializing in launch photography. Based on the Space Coast, a short drive from Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX launch pads.
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