The first time NASA tried to fly a telescope to the space station for an innovative study of meteors it was destroyed during a launch accident of an Orbital ATK Antares rocket.
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Engineers used spare components to fashion a second meteor telescope and put it aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship that launched eight months later. That too ended in disaster when the company's Falcon 9 rocket failed.
On Tuesday, a third telescope is among the nearly 7,500 pounds of cargo packed aboard an Orbital ATK Cygnus capsule, which is slated to blast off aboard an Atlas 5 rocket between 11:05 and 11:35 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The telescope will be placed inside the space station's Window Observational Research Facility, or WORF, which uses a research-quality window in the U.S. Destiny laboratory.
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Scientists want to use the telescope to learn about the size, density and chemical composition of meteor dust entering Earth's atmosphere, the first space-based study of its kind.
They hope to use the telescope during the next big meteor shower, the Perseids, in mid-August.