Washington, April 19: Nearly 2.5 tons of NASA science investigations and cargo are on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft.
The spacecraft launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:25 p.m. EDT Friday, April 18.
The mission is the company’s third cargo delivery flight to the station through a 1.6 billion dollar NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon’s cargo will support more than 150 experiments to be conducted by the crews of ISS Expeditions 39 and 40.
William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said SpaceX is delivering important research experiments and cargo to the space station.
The scientific payloads on Dragon include investigations into efficient plant growth in space, human immune system function in microgravity, Earth observation, and a demonstration of laser optics communication. Also being delivered is a set of high-tech legs for Robonaut 2, which will provide the humanoid robot torso already aboard the orbiting laboratory the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside the space station.
Dragon will be grappled at 7:14 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, by Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, using the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. NASA’s Rick Mastracchio will support Wakata in a backup position. Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station May 18 for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, bringing from the space station nearly 3,500 pounds of science, hardware, crew supplies and spacewalk tools. (ANI)