CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The seven astronauts living in space will receive a special delivery ahead of the holidays as soon as this weekend, including Christmas gifts and edible treats but also many new science experiments, News4Jax sister station WKMG in Orlando reports.
SpaceX is set to launch its 21st cargo supply mission for NASA from Kennedy Space Center this weekend if the weather cooperates. After the Falcon 9 rocket sends the Cargo Dragon spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station, it will arrive about 24 hours later, bringing 6,400 pounds of research, supplies and goodies for the astronauts.
Currently, there are four NASA astronauts, one Japanese and two Russian cosmonauts on the ISS.
During a NASA briefing Friday, Jennifer Scott Williams, with NASA’s ISS Program Research Office, explained the astronauts work with the Food Lab at Johnson Space Center to pick their favorites for flight, including any special requests.
“For this mission, we’ve got some fresh apples and oranges and lemons going up because astronauts really don’t get an opportunity to eat fresh fruits and vegetables while they’re in space, there’s also going to be some prepared foods for the holiday season, including fixings for a turkey dinner, and some fun desserts,” Scott Williams said about the bounty headed to space.
This is the first launch with SpaceX’s re-designed cargo capsule, which can now fit 50% more inside than the previous spacecraft, which means more room for science.
One of the many research experiments headed to the laboratory on ISS is led by University of Florida and AdventHealth to study how muscle cells respond to zero-gravity. Dr. Paul Coen, an associate investigator with AdventHealth, said the research group has been developing “lab on a chip” technology to grow and study muscle cells in space.
The whole experiment is self-contained and won’t need any tending from the astronauts.