The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off for its CRS-15 mission for NASA

The Dragon space cargo ship blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket in its CRS-15 mission (Image NASA TV)
The Dragon space cargo ship blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket in its CRS-15 mission (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-15 (Cargo Resupply Service 15) mission, also referred to as SPX-15. After just over ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 15th mission for the Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

The CRS-15 mission keeps SpaceX’s reuse policy in collaboration with NASA. The Dragon was launched on a rocket with a used first stage, the second consecutive time for a resupply to the International Space Station. The first stage used for this launch is the same used to start the CRS-9 mission and it wasn’t recovered because Elon Musk’s company has been using a more advanced version for some time.

The the Dragon cargo spacecraft’s cargo is almost 2,700 kg (almost 6,000 lbs) between the pressurized and the non pressurized section. There are about 200 kg (about 450 lbs) of food and other supplies for the International Space Station crew but most of the cargo consists of instruments, hardware and various other materials needed to science experiments and research conducted aboard the Station.

A study of the use of an artificial intelligence to assist the International Space Station crew is CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile companioN). It’s an experiment by ESA and the German space agency DLR to assess the possibilities of helping the human crew members by performing some operations in their place and assisting them in others by providing them with useful information for the operations to be carried out.

Various experiments concern the growth of plants, and in this case of algae as well in the one called Space Algae, in the International Space Station’s microgravity state. The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer ExperimeSpace Station (ECOSTRESS) instrument will provide new measurements of plant responses to changes in water availability, useful to understand the possible problems for plants in environments affected by climate changes.

Among the medical experiments there’s Angiex Cancer Therapy, connetted to cancer research. In this case, the intent is to understand the effects of microgravity on the growth of endothelial cells to understand if they represent a valid in vitro model to test some effects on blood vessels.

The Dragon Spacecraft is now en route to the International Space Station and everything proceeds normally. The arrival at the Station is scheduled for Monday: at about 11 UTC the Dragon is scheduled to be captured by the Station’s robotic arm.

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