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New solar arrays and Canadian CubeSats to head to the International Space Station

Launch of a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft

Carrying thousands of kilograms of resupply equipment, the SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply vehicle blasts off towards the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

On , SpaceX's Dragon cargo ship will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Two days later, the Dragon vehicle will dock to the International Space Station (ISS) autonomously, delivering vital supplies to Station crew.

In its unpressurized trunk, Dragon will carry a pair of roll-out solar arrays, flexible solar panels that will be mounted on some of the Station's existing arrays to augment the ISS's power supply. These panels will be robotically extracted using Canadarm2. Assisted by the 17-metre-long robotic arm, astronauts will later perform spacewalks to install the new hardware.

Dragon will also be carrying the first pair of Canadian CubeSat Project nanosatellites, designed and built by students from Dalhousie University and the University of Victoria. Respectively named LORIS (Low Orbit Reconnaissance Imagery Satellite) and ORCASat (Optical Reference CAlibration Satellite), the small-scale satellites will be deployed from the Station after their arrival.

Live coverage of Dragon's launch will be available on NASA TV on , beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET. Rendezvous and docking will also be broadcast on , starting at 6:00 a.m. ET (docking scheduled for 7:30 a.m. ET).

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