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SpaceX to launch Dragon 1 capsule in final mission to space station

Friday's launch will be the last time SpaceX uses the Dragon 1 capsule to carry cargo to the International Space Station.
Credit: NASA/SpaceX
The SpaceX Dragon craft is poised and ready to be released from the International Space Station on May 21, 2015. NASA astronaut Terry Virt Expedition 43 Commander tweeted this comment along with this image: “Releasing SpaceX Dragon today with the help of @Station CDRKelly”. This was SpaceX’s sixth resupply mission to the space station and returned about 3,100 pounds of experiment samples and equipment back down to Earth.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — There's another rocket launch set for Friday in Florida, and it's expected to be a historic occasion.

The Dragon capsule will launch late Friday night aboard a Falcon 9 rocket and carrying cargo to astronauts on the International Space Station. It's set to be SpaceX's 20th resupply mission since it landed a contract with NASA.

And, the launch will be the last time SpaceX uses the Dragon 1 spacecraft. The Dragon 1 will retire to make way for a newer spacecraft -- Dragon 2.

Florida Today reported that Dragon 2 will be certified to fly up to five times. Dragon 1 was certified to fly just three times.

The launch window opens at 11:50 p.m. Friday night. The rocket and spacecraft will launch from pad 40 at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. 

Weather is about 50 percent go for launch as of Thursday afternoon. According to the Weather Squadron of the 45th Space Wing, weather concerns include late afternoon cloudiness, isolated showers and liftoff winds.

Among the cargo headed to the ISS are science experiments for a zero-gravity environment. Some of the experiments include high-tech Adidas shoes, human intestine cells on a chip and human stem cells to create heart cells. There will also be tools to develop better 3D printing and ways Delta Faucet Company can create water-conserving showerheads.

RELATED: SpaceX teams up with tourism agency to take people to space aboard Crew Dragon

RELATED: NASA: SpaceX Crew Dragon arrives in Florida for first crewed launch from US soil since 2011

The Dragon resupply mission isn't the only launch this month for Florida's Space Coast. 

SpaceX plans to launch the Falcon 9 rocket two more times this month to send more Starlink satellites into orbit. Then, the company plans to launch another Earth-observation satellite for the space agency in Argentina.

Besides SpaceX, United Launch Alliance is set to launch its Atlas V rocket on March 19, sending another Air Force satellite into orbit.

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