A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on Monday, sending a Dragon spacecraft and more than 6,400 pounds worth of supplies, hardware and research to the ISS.
- SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off for ISS cargo mission
- Dragon capsule carrying 6,400 pounds of cargo
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Some of the items being sent are crucial materials that will be used for more than 250 science and research experiments and investigations that will be conducted on the orbiting laboratory, NASA explained.
The Dragon will spend about a month attached to the space station before returning to Earth in mid-September with the results of other experiments, NASA said.
The launch took off at 12:31 p.m. at Launch Complex 39A — the launch pad where Apollo 11 launched the manned mission to the moon in 1969.
After the launch, the Falcon 9 rocket landed successfully at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Much of Central Florida, and particularly the Space Coast, heard a sonic boom.
Experiments make up most of the 6,400 pounds of cargo. That includes 20 mice. T
he Dragon capsule is also doubling as an ice cream truck this time. There was extra freezer space, so NASA packed little cups of vanilla, chocolate and birthday cake ice cream for the station's crew of six, as well as ice cream candy bars. Those treats should be especially welcomed by U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, in orbit since November.
Scientists say this mission to the Space Station is important for advancements in science.
“There are so many things you can do in the absence of gravity or micro gravity on the ISS that you could never accomplish here on the ground,” said Ken Fields, associate director with the Center for the Advancement of Science and Space.
“You can study biological specimen that have shorter life cycles, but then learn how they relate to humans," said scientist Pete Hasbrook. "They’ve been studied for a long time on ground but now we can study them in space and see how that may change what we’ve learned about them in the past.”
SpaceX does have plans for another launch on Sept. 7.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.