SpaceX has a special delivery on the way for the International Space Station. A Falcon 9 rocket and Cargo Dragon spacecraft had a picture-perfect launch Thursday for the company’s 22nd commercial resupply mission for NASA.
The Falcon 9’s first stage landed on a SpaceX droneship in the Atlantic Ocean and will be reused for a future mission. The Dragon capsule is now in orbit and is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS around 2 a.m. PT on Saturday.
There aren’t any humans aboard the Dragon capsule, but there are glow-in-the-dark baby squid and tiny tardigrades, which can. Scientists will study the tardigrades, also known as water bears, to see how they survive and reproduce on the ISS.
The young bobtail squid are part of a study on symbiotic relationships between the animals and microbes. Scientists are curious how spaceflight will impact the relationship.
The critters on Dragon are just a small part of the 7,300 pounds (3,300 kilograms) of supplies, research gear and hardware heading to the ISS.
Another notable item on board is the ISS Roll-out Solar Array (aka iROSA), innovative solar panels designed by Redwire that roll out like a red carpet. and it’s now ready to become a part of the ISS power system. SpaceX will deliver the first pair of the arrays, with more planned to follow.
SpaceX is on an extended run ferrying both cargo andas a NASA commercial partner. There’s a lot of new SpaceX equipment on the CRS-22 flight, including a fresh Falcon 9 rocket booster and a new cargo spacecraft.
The Cargo Dragon will stay in residence at the ISS for about a month before returning to Earth with a load of science experiments and hardware.
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