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Dublin: 14°C Monday 23 May 2022

A robot rocket is about to chase the ISS across Irish skies at 17,500 mp/h

The Space X rocket will resupply the space station, but it needs to catch it first.

The ISS passing over the UK last night.
The ISS passing over the UK last night.
Image: Twitter/Kurt Whelan

THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE Station flying 250 miles overhead has become a regular treat for keen sky watchers but there’s a special treat for the next two days.

When ISS blasts across Ireland’s evening sky tonight and tomorrow at 17,500 mp/h, it will be tracked by a rocket in hot pursuit.

The football field sized ISS needs to be restocked with food and supplies every now and then and without a working space shuttle this has gotten a bit trickier.

Step forward private industry and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The company has been blasting supplies to orbiting astronauts for a number of years now and will tonight launch it’s latest Dragon rocket.

This latest delivery to the space station even includes a number of espresso machines that have been specially designed to perform in zero gravity.

The rocket will blast off from Florida at 8.30pm Irish time, a launch you can watch live.

That’s exactly 56 minutes before the ISS is to pass over Ireland at 9.26 pm. Right away, the SpaceX rocket is on a visible mission to intercept the space station.

It means, after seeing the bright ISS fly over Ireland at 9.26 pm, you’ll see the smaller, fainter, Dragon rocket tracking it along the same line about 18 minutes later.

Tomorrow, after a full day chasing the space station, both will be side by side in Irish skies at 10.08 pm.

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ISS has been observable over Irish skies for the past week, and will be for another week, but only tonight and tomorrow will you be able to see the space race live overhead.

SpaceX want to keep reusing their rockets instead of merely splash down into the sea.

The plan is that the rockets would land safely on an unmanned ocean barge off the Floridian coast. A dramatic video earlier this year showed one of their rocket reaching the barge but exploding as it attempted to touch down.

Read: “Close, but no cigar this time”: SpaceX launch goes (more or less) to plan >

Read: This revolutionary rocket will have to wait to try a risky new way of landing >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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