Today’s launch marks the 22nd time NASA will rely on Elon Musk and co to deliver cargo to the ISS. Under the terms of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS), SpaceX will launch an uncrewed Dragon capsule packed to the brim with supplies. Among the more unusual items stashed away in the NASA payload, SpaceX will fly more than a hundred baby squid for microgravity experiments.
The mission, officially dubbed CRS-22, is presently pencilled in to blast off later this evening from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Weather permitting, the Cargo Dragon will blast off atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
In typical SpaceX fashion, the Falcon 9 booster will return to Earth and attempt to land on a remote drone ship in the Atlantic.
SpaceX said: “Dragon will separate from Falcon 9’s second stage about twelve minutes after liftoff and autonomously dock to the space station on Saturday, June 5.”
NASA reveal contents of SpaceX cargo resupply mission to ISS
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How to watch the SpaceX launch live online:
As with all SpaceX launches, you will be able to enjoy the action from the comfort of your home.
Courtesy of SpaceX, simply tune into the embedded video player above just before the broadcast begins.
Liftoff is presently pencilled in for 6.29pm BST (1.29pm EDT).
SpaceX said: “A live webcast of this mission will begin about 15 minutes prior to liftoff.”
Today’s launch will also be broadcast on NASA TV, NASA’s smartphone app and the space agency’s website.
NASA said: “Hundreds of experiments are being conducted on the International Space Station in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science.
“This research helps us better understand how to prepare for future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars, supports a growing space economy, and leads to developments that improve life on Earth.”
Included in today’s payload are experiments that will help farmers develop new cotton crops that require less water and pesticides to farm.
The astronauts on board the ISS will also experiment on ‘water bears’ or tardigrades, which are resilient, eight-legged microanimals.
Scientists are interested in whether the minuscule creatures can teach us anything about living in space.
NASA said: “Beneficial microbes play a significant role in the normal development of animal tissues and in maintaining human health, but gravity’s role in shaping these interactions is not well understood.
“This experiment could support the development of measures to preserve astronaut health and identify ways to protect and enhance these relationships for better wellbeing on Earth.”
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will also carry new solar arrays for the ISS, which will be installed at a later point this summer.
And foodwise, the SpaceX will fly fresh apples, oranges, tomatoes and lemons as well as a host of “standard menu food containers”.
At the same time, the capsule will be returning to Earth with a bunch of completed experiments and equipment.
The Dragon is expected to return in July and will target a splashdown off the coast of Florida.
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