Bad weather on earth forced one SpaceX supply ship to wave off the possibility of making the first successful autonomous docking from the International Space Station on Monday (January 11).
That upgraded Dragon cargo ship, pulls 5,200 lbs. (2,500 kg) scientific experiments and other supplies were to leave the orbital complex at. 10 EST (1500 GMT).
NASA and SpaceX decided to abandon the experiment at. 9:53 AM EST (1453 GMT) due to bad weather at the vessel’s splashdown site in the Atlantic off Daytona, Fla. The two units will later decide when to take the next undocking attempt, officials at NASA TV, which broadcast the docking attempt live, said.
SpaceX has been upgraded Cargo Dragon the capsule can carry 20% more cargo (and experiments) compared to its predecessor and can splash down into the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Pacific Ocean, giving a faster delivery time for science, as experiments can reach the nearby NASA Kennedy Space Center in as little as four timer. The new Dragon can also stay on the station twice as long as previous cargo Dragon types, allowing for longer scientific studies.
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Related: SpaceX launches upgraded Cargo Dragon to space station for NASA
This Cargo Dragon was launched on December 6th and made SpaceX’s first autonomous docking of supply ships at the International Space Station about 24 hours later. This mission, called the CRS-21, marked the first time a Cargo Dragon did not use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to attach itself to the space station.
This mission also marks the first time two Dragon spacecraft were docked at the space station at the same time, NASA said on NASA TV, as a crew kite is currently parked at the orbiting complex after ferries four astronauts to the station in November.
In a statement, NASA officials said the CRS-21 Dragon will bring “significantly more science back to Earth than possible in previous Dragon capsules” due to upgrades in the hold. Dragon’s return near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will also be the first time such an event has occurred since the agency’s space fleet withdrew in 2011, allowing science to be processed there.
ONE selection of the recurring experiments includes:
- Cardinal Heart, which investigates how gravity alters cardiovascular (heart) cells at the tissue and cell level, which can help create new screenings of heart problems and treatments to solve them.
- Space Organogenesis (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), which looks at how 3D organ buds grow from human stem cells and monitor changes in gene expression. The hope is that this study will accelerate the creation of artificial organs.
- Bacterial adhesion and corrosion, which examines the bacterial genes used for biofilm and whether the biofilms can corrode stainless steel. It also examines the effectiveness of a disinfectant that can control and remove resistant biofilms on future aerospace structures.
- Sextant Navigation, which is testing techniques to use a sextant device for emergency navigation on spacecraft far from Earth, as NASA hopes to send astronauts to orbit as soon as 2023.
- Fiber optic production, which returns experimental optical fibers made in space. These fibers had a mixture of zirconium, barium, lanthanum, sodium and aluminum (also called ZBLAN with reference to the chemical formula) and will investigate how effective these spacecraft fibers are compared to their counterparts on Earth.
- Rodent Research-23, which will return live mice from space to investigate how arteries, veins, lymph structures in the eye and retina change before and after spaceflight. This work is part of a series of experiments examining why 40% of astronauts have visual impairments during prolonged spaceflight.
NASA added that Earthlings will have to work fast to bring the precious science back to Earth as the effects of gravity take on the experiments.
“After a SpaceX boat has pushed the capsule out of the water, a waiting team pulls time-critical science out of the spacecraft and loads it onto a waiting helicopter,” NASA said in the same statement. “The helicopter will deliver this science ashore a few hours after the splashdown. Any remaining scientific cargo will return either in another helicopter cargo or remain on board the boat and be removed at the port.”
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