(USA TODAY) MELBOURNE, Fla. — NASA on Sunday cleared SpaceX to attempt a 4:58 p.m. Monday launch of its next International Space Station resupply mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
During meetings Sunday morning, NASA determined it was safe to proceed with the launch of a Dragon cargo capsule despite the failure of a backup computer outside the station that will have to be replaced with a spacewalk.
On Friday, the backup computer failed to respond to commands during routine health checks.
The computer provides redundancy for a number of systems on the station's truss, but NASA determined they could be configured properly to protect against the potential failure of the primary computer, which is performing well.
"We need to get (the Dragon) on board as soon as we practically can," said Mike Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager.
There's an 80% chance of favorable launch weather during Monday's instantaneous launch window at Launch Complex 40, with anvil clouds a possible threat as a cold front moves into the area.
If SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasts off Monday, the Dragon spacecraft — packed with nearly 5,000 pounds of food, supplies and science experiments — would be expected to berth at the station Wednesday morning.
If the launch scrubs, the next opportunity would be Friday afternoon, when the weather forecast is expected to be worse.
NASA has tentatively scheduled a spacewalk to replace the failed computer box for April 22.
After launch, SpaceX will attempt to drop the Falcon 9 rocket's first-stage gently in the Atlantic Ocean for recovery, the next step in the company's attempt to develop a reusable booster.