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NASA sends holiday treats and a laser communication system to the Space Station
A SpaceX Falcon-9 launched CRS-29 to the ISS. Photo by C&J Images for Space Daily.
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NASA sends holiday treats and a laser communication system to the Space Station
by Jennifer Briggs
Space Coast FL (SPX) Nov 09, 2023

For the first time in three years, SpaceX returned the Falcon 9 booster supporting a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission back onto Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS). The boosters for nineteen out of twenty-nine CRS launches landed on a drone ship offshore, which brought the rocket back to Florida for refurbishment and reuse. This mission marks the tenth CRS mission that the reusable first-stage booster landed back on CCSFS; one of them, CRS-16, failed to reach LZ-1, but it managed to make a water landing off the coast of Cape Canaveral instead.

Liftoff of the unpiloted Cargo Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket occurred at 8:28 p.m. EST (0128 UTC Nov. 10) from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft headed into orbit on a 32-hour pursuit of the orbiting laboratory with more than 6,500 pounds of scientific experiments, hardware, and crew supplies.

"We've got some fun holiday treats for the crew, like chocolate, pumpkin spice cappuccino, rice cakes, turkey, duck, quail, seafood, cranberry sauce, and mochi," Dana Weigel, deputy program manager for NASA's International Space Station Program, said during a pre-launch news conference on Nov. 8th.

The ISS will receive a number of research experiments from the Dragon cargo spacecraft, including technology demonstrations, student-led investigations, and studies in the physical and biological sciences.

Two NASA hardware are also on board, AWE and ILLUMA-T.

The Integrated LCRD Low Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T) is going to conduct high-speed communications tests as part of the mission called Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD), which launched in December 2021. ILLUMA-T and LCRD will "create NASA's first two-way laser communications relay system."

AWE, or Atmospheric Waves Experiment, will investigate how solar activity and terrestrial weather affect the upper atmosphere by tracking airglow in that area.

Touchdown of the first stage on CCSFS occurred about eight minutes into the mission, sending a pair of sonic booms across Florida's Space Coast as it slowed for landing on Landing Zone 1 at CCSFS. The first stage, designated B1081, completed its second flight to space on Thursday night's mission.

The Dragon cargo capsule is scheduled to autonomously dock at the space station's Harmony module at approximately 5:20 a.m. EST (1020 UTC) on Saturday to start a month-long stay at the orbiting research complex.

At the end of the mission, the Dragon spacecraft will return to Earth for a splashdown off the coast of Florida, packed with research and about 3,800 pounds of cargo no longer needed on the ISS.

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