SpaceX’s cargo supply which blasted off on Sunday has arrived at the ISS.
Earlier this week, we reported on SpaceX’s first launch from a NASA launch pad. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from the legendary pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center with cargo supplies for the space station. Onboard the Falcon was the Dragon spacecraft, designed by SpaceX to ultimately be a shuttle for humans going into orbit, but currently serving as a cargo container. The spacecraft, which is carrying 2,500kg of supplies and experimental equipment for the station’s crew, has now successfully docked.
The docking was somewhat problematic, with the spaceship initially missing the ISS due to a GPS error. This is the first time since 2012 that a SpaceX vessel has been forced to abandon a docking attempt, but on its second try all went according to plan. The ship was grabbed by the space station’s robotic arm and pulled the craft in to dock.
Among the equipment that has just arrived is a crystal growth laboratory, intended to study proteins: Proteins are easier to observe in crystal form, and proteins crystallized in microgravity often have a higher quality than those made on Earth. In addition, another lab has arrived for studying drug resistance in bacteria, since microgravity increases bacterial growth rates.
The Dragon will remain with the ISS for one month, during which its supplies will be transferred into the station. Thereafter, it’ll depart from the ISS and re-enter the atmosphere, making a splashdown somewhere in the Pacific. However, there is no time for the crew of the ISS to relax: Russian supplies launched from Kazakhstan on Wednesday and is due to arrive at the station within 24 hours.