SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft reached the space station on Monday after launching on Sunday on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft carried more than 4,800 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies and spacecraft hardware. The Dragon cargo, part of SpaceX’s 23rd Commercial Resupply Services mission, will remain at the station for about a month.

Astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough monitored the arrival of the spacecraft, according to reports.

Watch: NASA’s SpaceX Cargo Resupply Mission

NASA listed science experiments included in this delivery:

  1. Protecting bones during spaceflight

Reducing Arthritis Dependent Inflammation First Phase (READI FP) evaluates the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the growth of bone tissue and tests whether bioactive metabolites, which include substances such as antioxidants formed when food is broken down, might protect bones during spaceflight. The metabolites that will be tested come from plant extracts generated as waste products in wine production. 

NASA believes that protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve scientists’ understanding of physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to the prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women.

  1. Retinal Diagnostics Tests

Retinal Diagnostics tests whether a small, light-based device can capture images of the retinas of astronauts to document the progression of vision problems known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). According to NASA, the device uses a commercially available lens approved for routine clinical use and is lightweight, mobile, and noninvasive. The videos and images can be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. 

  1. Robotic helpers

The Nanoracks-GITAI Robotic Arm will demonstrate the microgravity versatility and dexterity of a robot designed by GITAI Japan Inc. Results could support the development of robotic labour to support crew activities and tasks, as well as inform servicing, assembly, and manufacturing tasks while in orbit. Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards, says NASA.

The technology can also help in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. 

  1. Testing Materials

MISSE-15 NASA is one of a series of investigations that is testing how the space environment affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. These tests provide insights that support the development of better materials needed for space exploration. 

According to NASA, Testing materials in space has the potential to significantly speed up their development. Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete.

  1. Genetically engineering plants under microgravity

Plants grown under microgravity conditions typically display evidence of stress.  Advanced Plant EXperiment-08 (APEX-08) examines the role of compounds known as polyamines in the response of the small, flowering plant thale cress to microgravity stress. Results of this experiment could help identify key targets for the genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity. 

These and numerous other cutting-edge investigations and experiments in biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, etc, are being carried out by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Making advances in these areas will keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel.

Also Read: WATCH: Elon Musk shares astonishing video of SpaceX rocket fairing recovery



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