SpaceX will try again this weekend to bring a new batch of supplies to the International Space Station after poor weather at the launch site forced the company to abandon its first attempt.
The mission is scheduled to lift off at 2:20 p.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday. Should weather again derail those plans, a backup launch window will be scheduled for Sunday at 1:58 p.m. ET. The original start date was Tuesday.
The abundance of supplies on board includes a pair of new solar arrays for the space station, dwarf tomato seeds and a range of science experiments. There will also be treats for the astronauts on the space station, like ice cream and Thanksgiving dishes like spicy green beans, cranberry and apple desserts, pumpkin pie and candy corn.
The solar arrays will be installed outside the floating lab during spacewalks scheduled for November 29 and December 3rd. she will give the space station an energy boost.
SpaceX has launched more than two dozen resupply missions to the space station over the past decade as part of a multibillion-dollar deal with NASA. This launch takes place in the midst of SpaceX’s busiest year yet, with more than 50 operations to date, including two astronaut missions.
The cargo on board contains a number of health-related articles, such as Moon microscope kit. The portable, hand-held microscope allows astronauts to collect images of blood samples and send them to flight surgeons on the ground for diagnosis and treatment.
Nutrients are a key component to maintaining good health in space. But fresh produce is scarce on the space station compared to the packaged meals astronauts eat during their six-month stay Low Earth Orbit.
“For our exploration goals at NASA, it’s pretty important not only to provide the crew with nutrients, but also to look at different plant species as sources of nutrients that we would be pressurizing.” to survive the long journeys between distant destinations like Mars and so on,” said Kirt Costello, chief scientist for NASA’s International Space Station Program and deputy manager of the ISS Research Integration Office.
Astronauts have grown and tasted different types of lettuce, radishes and chillies on the International Space Station. Now, crew members can add some dwarf tomatoes — Red Robin tomatoes in particular — to their list of space-grown salad ingredients.
The experiment is part of an effort to provide continuous production of fresh food in space.
The dwarf tomato seeds are grown under two different light treatments to measure the effects on the number of tomatoes that can be harvested and the nutritional value and taste of the plants. As a control experiment, red robin tomatoes are also grown on Earth. The two cultures are compared to measure the effects of a zero-gravity environment on tomato growth.
The space tomatoes will be grown in small bags called plant pillows, which will be installed in the vegetable production system known as the veggie growth chamber on the space station. The astronauts will water and tend the plants frequently.
“Tomatoes will be a new adventure for us in the vegetable market team trying to figure out how to keep these thirsty plants well watered without overwatering them,” said Gioia Massa, NASA space crop production scientist and principal investigator on the tomato study.
In the spring, the tomatoes are ready for their first taste test.
The crew awaits Tomato harvest 90, 97 and 104 days after the plants have started to grow. During taste tests, the crew evaluates the taste, aroma, juiciness and texture of the tomatoes grown with the different light treatments. Half of each tomato harvest is frozen and returned to Earth for analysis.
Growing crops on the space station not only provides the opportunity for fresh food and creative taco nightsit can also improve the mood of the crew during their long space flight.
Polls will track the astronauts’ moods as they tend to the plants and interact with them to see how tending to the seedlings improves the crew’s moods Experience amidst the isolation of the space station.
The hardware for larger crop production on the space station and possibly other planets is still under development, but scientists are already planning which crops might best grow on the moon and Mars. A team earlier this year successfully grown crops in moon soil These included samples collected during the Apollo missions.
“Tomatoes will be a great crop for the moon,” Massa said. “They’re very nutritious, very tasty, and we think the astronauts will be really excited to grow them there.”