SpaceX successfully launches squids and tardigrades to the ISS for NASA

Baby squid doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo go to the ISS.

Jamie S. Foster, University of Florida

SpaceX has a special delivery en route to the International Space Station. A Falcon 9 rocket and Cargo Dragon spacecraft had a perfect launch Thursday for the company’s 22nd commercial refueling mission for NASA.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 landed on a SpaceX drone in the Atlantic Ocean and will be reused for a future mission. The Dragon capsule is now in orbit and is expected to reach the ISS around 2 a.m. on Saturday.

There are no humans aboard the Dragon capsule, but there are baby squid that glow in the dark and tiny tardigrades, which can survive in extreme circumstances. Scientists will study tardigrades, also known as water bears, to see how they survive and reproduce on the ISS.

Young bobtail squid are part of a study into the symbiotic relationships between animals and microbes. Scientists are curious how spaceflight will impact the relationship.

NASA Television and SpaceX provided live coverage launch Thursday, with take-off on time at 10:29 a.m. PT. SpaceX tweeted videos of the dramatic take-off and the first-floor booster landing.

Dragon creatures make up only a small portion of the 7,300 pounds (3,300 kilograms) of supplies, research equipment, and materials destined for the ISS.

Another notable feature on board is the ISS Roll-out Solar Array (aka iROSA), innovative solar panels designed by Redwire which unfolds like a red carpet. NASA had already tested the idea in 2017 and it is now ready to be part of the ISS power system. SpaceX will ship the first pair of arrays, with more to follow.

SpaceX is on a long haul carrying both cargo and humans at the ISS as a NASA business partner. There is a lot of new SpaceX gear on the CRS-22 flight, including a new Falcon 9 rocket thruster and a new cargo spacecraft.

The Cargo Dragon will remain in residence at the ISS for about a month before returning to Earth with a load of science experiments and equipment.

To pursue CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.




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