SpaceX is gearing up for another launch.
The eighth of the SpaceX cargo-carrying launches is scheduled for 4:43 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 8 out of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Dragon cargo spacecraft will head to the International Space Station where, among other things, it will drop off an expandable habitat module.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM for short) will attach to the outside of the ISS so it can be tested. The hope is to use these expandable structures for future Mars missions, where they’d ideally give astronauts a comfortable space to live and work. One of BEAM’s biggest advantages is that it’s lightweight. The structure will be tested out for two years to see how it handles space temperatures, radiation, and any debris it encounters.
The Dragon capsule, which sits at the top of the Falcon 9 rocket, will also be carrying scientific research and hardware as well as other supplies for the crew.
Once the spacecraft detaches from the Falcon 9 rocket, the rocket will attempt a landing on what SpaceX calls the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.
This will be the fifth attempt to land on a ship in the ocean — the first four have been unsuccessful, though SpaceX has managed to stick a landing on solid ground.
Building reusable rockets that are able to land back on Earth is critical to keeping future spaceflight costs down. After the last launch ended with an explosion on landing, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted his hopes for the next launch, saying this one has a “good chance.”
Watch the launch here: