- A SpaceX cargo ship carrying meteorite samples, live mice, and a roast turkey dinner is set to arrive at the International Space Station on Monday afternoon.
- This marks the first flight of SpaceX’s updated Dragon cargo ship. The new design can carry more cargo and can be used for up to five return journeys, up from three for the previous model.
- The capsule will join another Dragon ship already docked at the station, marking the first time SpaceX has had two capsules there at the same time.
- This mission is bringing about 6,400 pounds of supplies to the ISS, including about 4,400 pounds of research. This includes microbes and meteorite samples and 3D engineered heart tissue.
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SpaceX launched a capsule carrying a roast turkey, live mice, and meteorite samples to the International Space Station on Sunday morning.
It marked the 21st commercial resupply mission for Elon Musk’s aerospace giant, and the first flight of SpaceX’s updated Dragon cargo ship.
The unmanned capsule, which was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida by a Falcon 9 rocket booster, is expected to arrive Monday at 1:30 p.m. ET, after the mission was delayed by a day because of poor weather.
This mission is bringing about 6,400 pounds of supplies to the ISS, including about 4,400 pounds of research. This includes microbes and meteorite samples to investigate how microgravity affects biomining, 3D engineered heart tissue, a medical device that will provide quick blood test results for astronauts, and a new airlock.
It will join another Dragon capsule that docked at the ISS last month, and it will be the first time SpaceX has had two capsules there at the same time. SpaceX is hoping to always have at least one Dragon docked at the ISS.
The new Dragon model can carry roughly 20% more weight than the previous one.
The capsule is also bringing 40 mice, which will be used to research the impact that living on the ISS can have on astronauts’ bones and eyes, the AP reported.
The experiments make it the “the ultimate Christmas present” for the NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Kenny Todd, NASA’s deputy space station program manager, said during a press conference on Friday.
When asked whether the capsule was bringing personal presents to the ISS for the seven astronauts on board, Todd said: “Let’s see what happens when they open the hatch â€¦ I’m optimistic.”
Todd did say the Dragon was bringing a festive meal for the astronauts, including roast turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, shortbread biscuits, and tubes of icing.
The capsule is expected to remain at the ISS for about a month before returning to Earth with experiments and old equipment.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 booster detached and landed on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean about nine minutes after launch. The ship catches falling boosters so SpaceX can use them again.
The updated Dragon model is capable of up to five flights to and from the ISS, compared with three for the previous version, and can dock there by itself rather than using the ISS’s robot arm for anchoring.
It can also stay on the station more than twice as long as the previous version of Dragon and can hold twice as many powered lockers, which preserve science and research samples during transport to and from Earth.
The flight was the first of at least nine agreed under a space-resupply contract between SpaceX and NASA.