For SpaceX, every flight is the real deal. It’s that way for any rocket company. But this time around, more than in the past, the private company contracted with NASA is flying without a safety net.
Sunday, if all goes well, at 8:30 p.m. ET, a Falcon 9 Rocket with a Dragon capsule on top will lift off from launch pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
This will be the first of a dozen NASA-contracted flights to resupply the international space Station, at a total cost of $1.6 billion.
The Mars rover Curiosity will get to try out its scoop this weekend, according to current NASA plans.
"The request that the engineers made to the scientists was: Find us a good sandbox, a good sand pit, to play in here, on our way to Glenelg," said Mike Watkins, Curiosity mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, at a press conference Thursday. "This site, Rocknest, is exactly that."
The vehicle is currently parked 400 meters as the crow flies from Bradbury Landing, where it landed on August 6. It will likely stay there for another two weeks, with scooping to begin on Saturday.