On Tuesday, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, marking their third launch in under three days. The rocket carried over four tons of scientific equipment, supplies for the crew, and some delicious treats like ice cream, fresh fruit, and cheese. The flight is expected to take two days to reach the International Space Station.
At 12:07 p.m. EST, the Falcon 9 launched from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, powered by a first stage booster on its 10th flight. The rocket roared to life, accelerated, and ascended into the sky.
After launching the rocket out of the lower part of the atmosphere, the initial section detached, rotated, and autonomously returned to land at the Space Force station, while the second section continued its ascent into orbit. This marked SpaceX’s 44th successful landing in Florida and its 269th successful retrieval of a booster overall.
The initial stage, constructed in Ukraine, is fueled by Russian engines, but a new American version has been developed.
On Tuesday, Northrop Grumman’s 20th mission to resupply the space station took place on SpaceX’s Falcon 9, marking the first of three missions. Meanwhile, the company continues to work on developing their new Antares 300-series rocket.
On the newest Cygnus spacecraft, there is a total of over 8,200 pounds of cargo, which includes 2,490 pounds of supplies for the crew, 3,017 pounds of scientific equipment, 2,493 pounds of hardware for the space station, and approximately 185 pounds of computer gear and equipment for spacewalks.
Meghan Everett, Deputy Program Scientist for the ISS, explained that the various fields of science being backed here encompass human studies, technological experiments, fundamental research, and Earth-based observations using a multitude of external equipment.
We have researchers from our NASA projects. We also have cooperation with our international collaborators, the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and a significant amount of valuable scientific discoveries being made by our national laboratories on the International Space Station.
According to Everett, one of the technology demonstrations includes a 3D metal printer that will offer insights on the structural contrasts between printing objects in space and printing them on Earth.
“We are pursuing this project because in the event of extended space missions where resupply is not possible, it is essential to have the capability to 3D print smaller components to maintain the structural integrity of the spacecraft over time.”
The provisions for the crew include a selection of fresh food and frozen snacks to sustain them during the lab’s extended mission..
Dina Contella, the ISS operations and integration manager at the Johnson Space Center, mentioned that they will be providing a variety of fresh food items such as apples, citrus fruits, and a selection of cheeses. They also have hazelnut spread, coffee, hummus, and plenty of ice cream.
She joked, “Let’s keep it a secret from the crew, some of it is meant to be a surprise.”