29th June (UPI) – SpaceX launched its 15th replenishment mission to the International Space Station on Friday, bringing tons of scientific experimentation equipment into orbit.
The company's Dragon Probe was launched by a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Blastoff took place at 5:42 pm EDT.
The launch was streamed live on NASA TV.
The cargo ship carries 5,900 pounds of research, trimming supplies and hardware to the space station. The journey from Earth to the ISS will take a little over three days.
About ten minutes after launch, the spacecraft was put into orbit. Over the weekend, a series of thrust firing drives will bring the Dragon spacecraft closer and closer to the space station.
When the ship reaches the ISS on Monday, NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold will maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm and dock the capsule. NASA astronaut Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor will support the docking mission.
In the coming weeks, the inhabitants of the space station will be busy carrying out a multitude of scientific experiments that the cargo ship delivers.
Testing of space-based plant breeding technologies. Other experiments will focus on the effects of microgravity on systems in the human body.
A study investigates the behavior of microbial communities in the digestive tract under weightless conditions. The study will also examine how disturbance of the sleep-wake cycle alters the composition of the microbiota in the gut and how these changes affect human health. The results could have implications for the treatment of gastrointestinal, immune, metabolic and sleep disorders on Earth.
Some of the experiments offer the opportunity for some fun. Crew members can play with Mobile Companion, an AI prototype developed by European Space Agency engineers. According to a NASA publication, the robot is said to "reduce the burden and workload of the crew during long-term space flights".