Double Dragon: SpaceX launches cargo capsule for ISS

(ORDO NEWS) — SpaceX launched a new, larger version of its Dragon space truck to the International Space Station (ISS), marking the first time in the company’s history that two capsules of this model are in orbit simultaneously.

This Dragon – filled with New Year’s gifts and New Year’s treats – will reach the space station today, Monday, joining the Dragon that delivered four astronauts last month.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the latest Dragon capsule from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center site, with the number of personnel serving the launch minimized due to the coronavirus. The reusable first stage – making its fourth flight in a row – landed on the oceanic platform a few minutes after the launch, which took place late in the morning local time. It was this first stage that helped Elon Musk’s company in May to lift its first astronaut into the air.

The cargo weighing 2,900 kilograms includes billions of microorganisms and crushed samples of asteroid material for experiments in “biomining” (extraction of resources using microbes), a new medical device for performing rapid blood tests of astronauts in space, and a private company-owned and operated camera that allows move experiments conducted in containers the size of a kitchen refrigerator outside the station. Also on board are 40 mice for examining bones and eyes, since bones and eyes represent the weak points of a person during a long stay in space.

Also on board are New Year and Christmas presents for two Russians, four Americans and one Japanese, who are now the station’s crew. Of course, information about what kind of gifts await the astronauts is not disclosed ahead of time. For New Year’s and Christmas meals, aboard the Dragon is roasted turkey stuffed with cornbread, cranberry sauce, shortbread biscuits and iced bottles.

The enhanced Dragon dock automatically to the ISS, while docking with the predecessor model station required a robotic arm.

After spending approximately one month in a state docked to the station, the capsule will return to Earth to make a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, loaded with old equipment and results of experiments from the orbiting laboratory.

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