NASA and SpaceX are ready for Cargo Dragon’s 25th International Space Station resupply mission after a month-long delay.
Originally slated for an early June launch, SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission (CRS-25 or Spx-25) was delayed indefinitely days before liftoff after the company detected signs of a possible fuel leak. As it worked alongside NASA to determine and correct the problem, the CRS-25 launch target gradually slipped to June 28 and then July 11 before settling on an 8:44 p.m. EDT liftoff. July 14 (00:44 UTC July 15). All vehicle and pad hardware is in good condition and the weather should be 70% favorable, boding well – finally – for an on-time launch.
In mid-June, SpaceX narrowed down the source of the fuel leak to a “valve inlet seal” on one of Dragon’s 16 Draco maneuvering thrusters and decided to replace the entire thruster as a precaution. . In late June, NASA announced that SpaceX had also decided to replace Dragon’s parachutes in case they had become contaminated and degraded from exposure to the reusable spacecraft’s toxic fuel. In total, inspections, troubleshooting and rework are underway to result in a 35-day delay — the longest launch delay in recent memory caused by a problem with a SpaceX rocket or spacecraft.
CRS-25 will be the third orbital trip for the Cargo Dragon 2 C208 capsule and the International Space Station (ISS) since its debut in December 2020 and was re-used in August 2021. Loaded with 2.6 tons (~5800 lb) Of supplies, the spacecraft will take about a day and a half to rendezvous with the ISS if it launches as scheduled Thursday and will spend about a month in orbit before returning to Earth.
Scheduled to launch less than half an hour after sunset, there’s a chance – weather depends – that CRS-25’s Falcon 9 rocket will produce an iconic artificial ‘nebula’ as it climbs back towards the sunlight and its exhaust plume is illuminated against the twilight sky. Tune in below around 8:30 p.m. CDT (00:30 UTC) to watch official SpaceX coverage of its 30th launch of the year.