November 26, 2019 •
Dragon spacecraft. Source: SpaceX
SpaceX next resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for December 4th at 12:51 p.m. EST. This launch will be the 19th mission for SpaceX under their Commercial Resupply Cargo Services contract with NASA. The mission is called CRS-19. A Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo spacecraft from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
SpaceX will be tasked to deliver a variety of science equipment to astronauts who live and work on the orbiting ISS laboratory. The cargo Dragon will be filled with over 5,700 lbs. of supplies.
The following are some of the scientific experiments and equipment that will be launched by SpaceX:
Budweiser's beer seed germination in space
Budweiser, the beer company, is sending an experiment to the ISS aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule. They will send barley seeds to germinate in space. The seed growth will be inhibited during a process known as malting. Malt is one of the main ingredients in beer, it gives the different beer their distinct flavor and color. The experiment will be brought back to Earth so Budweiser scientists can understand how the plants germinated in microgravity. They will analyze, evaluate the malt quality, and compare gene expression in space plants versus plants on Earth.
This kind of research is important because it will shed more knowledge on how crops grow in space. Researchers could then utilize what they learned to figure out the most efficient way to grow crops for future space travelers' food consumption.
Robotic tool storage
A portable tool shed will also be launched aboard SpaceX's, December 4th, resupply mission. The tool will serve as a long-term storage for robotic equipment, it will be like two small garages mounted on the ISS exterior. The storage unit will also protect the station's leak detectors.
NASA Cold Atom Lab experiment
NASA Cold Atom Lab scientist, Robert Thompson, said this SpaceX Dragon launch will take a new science module to the ISS that will aid in their research to examine fundamental theories of gravity.
The physics experiment equipment for the Cold Atom Lab produces clouds of ultra-cooled atoms called Bose-Einstein condensates. These temperatures that are ultra-cold act like a magnifying glass on atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate, giving scientists the opportunity to better study its quantum traits. "One of the things we're going to be doing is a test of Einstein's equivalence principle [...] If that breaks down, we need new physics rules," Thompson said. Einstein's equivalence principal is the concept that gravity should affect all forms of matter in the same way.
It will be interesting to know the results of this experiment in microgravity.
Mighty mice muscle degradation experiment
SeJin Lee, a professor at the Jackson Laboratory and University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and his team are sending a group of 40 mice aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.
These mice will be used for an experiment that will study how to combat muscle degradation in space. "When we engineered the mice to lack myostatin, they grew to twice their normal size," Lee said during a NASA conference. "We call them mighty mice." These engineered mighty mice do not have a key protein called myostatin, which inhibits muscle growth. Myostatin can be used to treat a variety of muscle-wasting disorders. This research aims to figure out if blocking myostatin in mice can prevent muscle loss in space.
Upon experiment conclusion, all 40 mice are expected to return to Earth alive. This investigation will help the team investigate a potential solution for muscle degradation. "Astronauts lose muscle and bone mass, so anything to prevent this can help maintain astronauts during space flight," Lee said, "It's also a huge problem for people here on Earth, in both children and adults. We hope to test a therapeutic strategy that will help (people with) lots of different conditions."
All these experiments done at the space station laboratory, do benefit humankind. Some past experiments have aided in the creation of new technology and medicine that we utilize today.
SpaceX sure plays a vital role in delivering cargo safely, so mark your calendar for this rocket launch to the International Space Station on December 4th!