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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland State University is expected to become part of space history Sunday -- as its space-research experiment heads to the International Space Station aboard a commercially-owned SpaceX rocket.
As of 2 p.m. Sunday, the mission was described as a "60 percent go." That means weather conditions at Florida's Cape Canaveral are "60-percent favorable" for the SpaceX resupply launch mission.
According to NASA, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was rolled to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 Saturday night, following a slight weather delay. The rocket will be elevated to its vertical position today, powered and fueled ahead of the 8:35 p.m. EDT liftoff.
This is the first shipment by a private company to go to the space station since NASA's shuttle program retired in July.
"The unmanned SpaceX rocket will carry supplies needed for an ongoing experiment PSU is conducting with NASA to test the behavior of liquids in zero gravity," reports the PSU Office of University Communications.
The project leader is Mark Weislogel, professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at PSU's Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. He has said that this operation is the 50th round of experiments PSU has conducted on the ISS. All the PSU experiments, including getting the materials into space, are supported by NASA, Weislogel said.
The university reportedly has another 50 or so future experiments planned for the space station.
"The goal is to see how liquids in specially shaped conduits behave in zero gravity," PSU reports. "The results they find may change the way fuel systems are designed for the next generation of spacecraft."
SpaceX -- short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. -- is based in Southern California. It has been awarded $1.6 billion to conduct 12 such launches to the ISS, Weislogel said in a prepared PSU statement earlier this month.