Weather OK for SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from KSC, landing at Cape

The weather looks mostly favorable for Thursday's launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center and subsequent first stage landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Conditions are 70 percent "go" for the 5:55 p.m. cargo launch to the International Space Station from historic pad 39A, according to the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron. Primary concerns are the possible presence of anvil and cumulus clouds.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 5:07 p.m. Saturday in the event of a delay, but that would see a drop to 60 percent "go" thanks to the added possibility of rain.

Space Coast residents and visitors can expect more than just the roar of the rocket's nine Merlin main engines – a sonic boom should reverberate across the region when the first stage returns for landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1 less than 10 minutes after liftoff.

[SpaceX conducts Falcon 9 test fire ahead of Thursday launch and landing]

[SpaceX booster may be displayed near Port Canaveral, Air Force Station]

The mission labeled CRS-11 will launch with nearly 6,000 pounds of supplies, science experiments and equipment to the ISS during the instantaneous launch window. The Dragon spacecraft hauling the cargo is scheduled to arrive at the station at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Science experiments packed into Dragon include ways to study roll-out solar panels, neutron stars, osteoporosis, microgravity's effects on cardiovascular health, Earth-observation tools and more.

This will be the 100th overall launch from NASA's historic pad 39A, which is currently under lease by SpaceX. The pad previously played host to space shuttle and Apollo launches, including the first mission to the moon.

The mission fits into SpaceX's regular cadence of 2017 launches, which are needed to fulfill manifest demands. The Space Coast is expected to see another Falcon 9 launch on June 15 with a Bulgarian communications satellite followed by another on July 1 with an Intelsat communications satellite.

Contact Emre Kelly at aekelly@floridatoday.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook at @EmreKelly.

Launch Thursday

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9

Mission: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for ISS resupply

Launch Time: 5:55 p.m.

Launch Window: Instantaneous

Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center

Weather: 70 percent "go"

Backup launch date: 5:07 p.m. Saturday

Florida Today


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