Baby bobtail squid and bizarre-looking, near-microscopic creatures with eight legs called tardigrades were among the fresh supplies delivered to the International Space station early Saturday (June 5) after a SpaceX cargo ship autonomously docked with the station.
The Dragon Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) cargo ship rendezvoused with the space station around 09:09GMT. Its journey to the station began Thursday (June 3) after a “shiny new” reusable Falcon 9 rocket launched it out of earth’s atmosphere from the Kennedy Space Center, Space.com said.
The resupply ship was an “upgraded” version that can carry more cargo than its predecessor, according to Space.com, which also said that one of the primary payloads for this resupply mission were two new roll-out solar arrays made by Boeing which will be used to “boost” the stations’ power system.
The cargo ship also carried fresh crew supplies and a “bevy of research experiments” that will focus on, among other things, life sciences, Space.com said.
It said the University of Florida, along with aerospace and defense research firm TechShot, sent some 130 squid paralarvae to the station for an experiment that was run on the Dragon cargo ship during its journey to the space station, and which looks at “symbiotic relationships between animals and microbes”.
NASA sent some 2,000 tardigrades on the cargo ship to see how the nearly indestructible organisms handle the stresses of microgravity, according to Space.com. It said NASA is hoping to identify which genes help make the tiny creatures so adaptable to such harsh environments as super-freezing temperatures, radiation and even the vacuum of space.
The mission is one of two launches for SpaceX in the span of a week. The space exploration company run by billionaire Elon Musk is planning to launch a satellite for radio and music service Sirius-XM as early as Sunday (June 6), according to Space.com.
(Production: Soren Larson / Mana Rabiee)