SpaceX’s February 18th launch is an ISS resupply mission carrying quite a few new instruments and scientific experiments. One of them is Raven, a module that will test technologies designed for autonomous rendezvous in space. It has three different sensors that can image and track the vehicles visiting the ISS. Raven will convert those images into an “accurate relative navigation solution” to help the spacecraft steer toward the right location. Anything it learns during its tenure on the station can be used to make sure future unmanned spacecraft don’t crash into each other.
You can watch the event on NASA TV, which will begin its live broadcast at 8:30AM. SpaceX actually almost canceled the flight after it found a helium leak — a “very small” one, according to Musk — in the rocket’s second-stage booster. The company’s personnel addressed the issue, though, and the FAA approved the flight on Friday afternoon. If the launch doesn’t go as planned, the next possible launch schedule is February 19th at around the same time.
Looks like we are go for launch. Added an abort trigger at T-60 secs for pressure decay of upper stage helium spin start system.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 18, 2017