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NASA Highlights Science Launching on Next SpaceX Cargo Mission

Raven, a technology demonstration headed to the International Space Station on the next SpaceX cargo launch
Raven, a technology demonstration headed to the International Space Station on the next SpaceX cargo launch, scheduled for mid-February, will provide a real-time relative navigation system for future autonomous rendezvous missions. Credits: NASA

NASA will host a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 8, to discuss research investigations launching aboard the next SpaceX commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station. Among the investigations are experiments with potential to fight human disease and a new autonomous spacecraft docking technology for testing.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is targeted to launch no earlier than mid-February, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This will be the first mission from the historic launch pad since SpaceX began to modernize the pad’s structures in preparation to fly astronauts on NASA missions for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

To participate in the science preview teleconference, reporters must contact Tabatha Thompson at 202-358-1100 or by 1 p.m. Wednesday for dial-in information. 

The briefing participants will include:

  • Danielle Gibson and Will Castro, students at Craft Academy at Morehead State University, to explain their experiment to use and evaluate smooth muscle cells to test theories about muscle contraction in the absence of gravity;  
  • Paul Reichert, associate principal scientist at Merck Research Laboratories, who will discuss a Merck investigation that tests growth in microgravity of antibodies important for fighting a wide range of human diseases;
  • Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, to brief two Earth science payloads: NASA’s Stratospheric Aerosol Gas Experiment III mission and Lightning Imaging Sensor, which will provide continuity for key climate observations and data records;
  • Ben Reed, deputy division director of the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, to discuss Raven, a technology demonstration to test autonomous rendezvous capability on the International Space Station; and
  • Dr. Anita Goel, chairman and scientific director for Nanobiosym, to discuss an experiment to provide data valuable for antibiotic drug development.

The uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft will carry crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the orbital laboratory to support the Expedition 50 and 51 crew members. This launch is the tenth contracted mission by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at:

For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit:


Tabatha Thompson
Headquarters, Washington