Following the launch of the SpaceX Dragon two days ago, astronauts abroad the International Space Station have just received more than 5,800 pounds of equipment, research, and also food.
On April 2, SpaceX launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a capsule for the second time, as part of Elon Musk’s idea to reuse rocket parts. After a first visit to the ISS two years ago and a successful landing, the Dragon traveled once again to the 250-mile-high orbiting outpost and is set to return to Earth next month.
This morning, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishige Kanai and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captured the capsule using the space station’s robotic arm. NASA says that the SpaceX package contains “research investigations and equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the space station.”
Among the equipment received today, the Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility will allow astronauts to test materials, coatings and components, or other large experiments, in the harsh environment of space. Designed by Alpha Space and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, this new facility “provides a platform for testing how materials react to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, atomic oxygen, ionizing radiation, ultrahigh vacuum, charged particles, thermal cycles, electromagnetic radiation, and micro-meteoroids in the low-Earth orbit environment,” NASA explains.
Two of the future experiences will consist in looking at the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and the blood cells it produces and understanding how plants respond to microgravity. Indeed, NASA hopes that the future ISS crews will be capable of growing their own vegetables in space during long-duration missions.
In the meantime, SpaceX continues to surprise us as we learned that the Falcon 9 going to the ISS was also carrying an experimental space junk sweeper known as RemoveDEBRIS. Scientists hope that it will help clean up all the junk polluting the upper atmosphere.
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