SpaceX has successfully launched its 18th International Space Station resupply mission. In addition to 2,300 kilograms of cargo, the CRS-18 Dragon spacecraft carried the Internal Docking Adapter-3.
The Falcon 9 carrying the CRS-18 Dragon spacecraft was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 22:01 UTC on Thursday, July 25. The launch had originally been scheduled for July 24 but was scrubbed 30 seconds before liftoff due to poor weather conditions.
Both the Dragon spacecraft and the rocket’s first stage utilised for yesterday’s launch were flight-proven. The Dragon had previously flown to the ISS on April 2015 for CRS-6 and December 2017 for CRS-13. Yesterday’s launch was the first time SpaceX has flown a third mission on the same Dragon. The Block 5 booster had utilised previously launched the CRS-17 mission in May and is expected to launch CRS-19 later this year.
Following a successful launch and first stage separation, the Falcon 9 booster was recovered for a second time touching down at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone 1. With recovery complete, attention shifted to Dragon deployment which occurred approximately 10 minutes into the mission. Three minutes later, the spacecraft’s solar arrays were deployed successfully.
The Dragon is expected to arrive at the orbiting laboratory on Saturday, July 27. Once within reach, NASA astronaut Nick Hague will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the spacecraft and install it to the nadir port on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module. Fellow NASA Christina Koch will act as Hauge’s backup during docking.