SpaceX has a special delivery planned for the International Space Station today. The Falcon 9 rocket and Cargo Dragon spacecraft are vertical on the launchpad and ready to go for the company’s 22nd commercial resupply mission for NASA.
There won’t be humans aboard the capsule. But there will be 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 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.
NASA TV will carry live coverage of the launch starting at 10 a.m. PT on Thursday. Liftoff is targeted for 10:29 a.m. PT.
SpaceX tweeted photos of Dragon and its Falcon 9 rocket escort rolling out to the launchpad Tuesday.
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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