Space X has launched its second SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule, which is expected to dock with the International Space Station on December 7. The Dragon capsule is loaded with science experiments and also Christmas treats and presents for the astronauts, reports the Associated Press.
The mission was rescheduled due to weather conditions but launched successfully from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday. This is the second Dragon capsule to head to the ISS, after an earlier payload of November 15, which took four astronauts to the space station.
The company has launched their upgraded Dragon Capsule, which is different from the capsules used in the past and is carrying 6,400 pounds of science investigations, a new airlock, and other cargo, as confirmed by NASA. According to NASA, the spacecraft will perform the first autonomous docking for SpaceX and the coverage will be broadcast on NASA Television.
As for the Christmas treats, AP reports, that the Dragon is carrying roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, shortbread cookies and tubes of icing.
SpaceX has been involved in resupplying the International Space Station since 2012. This journey marks the first time that the newly upgraded capsule has been used for carrying cargo to the station.
Dragon is flying solo and is en route to the @Space_Station, with arrival slated for Monday, Dec. 7, at about 1:30pm ET. Live NASA TV coverage will begin at 11:30am ET: https://t.co/zzcCllHi0x pic.twitter.com/u5gRKnDhMC
— NASA (@NASA) December 6, 2020
As stated by the Verge, the Dragon 2 capsule marks notable upgrades to its predecessor with the ability to carry 50 percent more science payloads and the ability to automatically dock with the space station without the need of human assistance as seen in the previous versions of the capsule.
In addition to carrying basic supplies for the station and the crew, the cargo is said to include several experiments to the space station, including the European Space Agency’s Bioasteroid, which include meteorite samples and microbes which will be used to seek a better understanding of the physical processes that control the mixtures, such as gravity and convection.
Other notable missions will include the COVID-19 drug research experiment, which will be conducted for the first time in space. There’s also an experiment to examine changes in human hearts using tissue chips to observe how microgravity causes changes in the shape of the heart. The payload also includes 40 mice, according to AP, for bone and eye study.
SpaceX had launched a crew of four to the ISS earlier this year on November 15. Once the new capsule reaches the ISS, it will mark the first time that two Dragon capsules are docked to the space station.