The latest SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 1:29 p.m. EDT Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, bearing more than 7,300 pounds of science experiments, new solar arrays, and other cargo.
The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy. It is scheduled to autonomously dock at the space station around 5 a.m. Saturday, June 5, and remain at the station for about a month. Coverage of arrival will begin at 3:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.
This 22nd contracted resupply mission for SpaceX will deliver the new ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays (iROSA) to the space station in the trunk of the Dragon spacecraft. After the Dragon docks to the space station’s Harmony module, the robotic Canadarm2 will extract the arrays and astronauts will install them during spacewalks planned for June 16 and 20.
Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:
Symbiotic squid and microbes in microgravity
The Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions (UMAMI) study examines the effects of spaceflight on the molecular and chemical interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts. Microbes play a significant role in the normal development of animal tissues and in maintaining human health. “Animals, including humans, rely on our microbes to maintain a healthy digestive and immune system,” says UMAMI principal investigator Jamie Foster. “We do not fully understand how spaceflight alters these beneficial interactions. The UMAMI experiment uses a glow-in-the-dark bobtail squid to address these important issues in animal health.”
The bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, is an animal model that is used to study symbiotic relationships between two species. This investigation helps determine whether spaceflight alters the mutually beneficial relationship, which could support development of protective measures and mitigation to preserve astronaut health on long-duration space missions. The work also could lead to a better understanding of the complex interactions between animals and beneficial microbes, including new and novel pathways that microbes use to communicate with animal tissues. Such knowledge could help identify ways to protect and enhance these relationships for better human health and well-being on Earth as well.
Water bears take on space
Tardigrades, known as water bears due to their appearance under a microscope and common habitat in water, are tiny creatures that tolerate environments more extreme than most life…