A rocket has launched delivering essential supplies to the ISS, including over 800 meals for astronauts and equipment for performing various scientific experiments.
Northrop Grumman's C rocket burst from Wallops Island, Virginia, carrying the company's Cygnus capsule. It will arrive at the space station on Friday.
While there is no Easter foam or lamb aboard, Nasa said there were plenty of goods on the way to the space stations' six residents, including smoked turkey, pork chops and asparagus.
In addition to the food supplies, the 3,450 kg load includes a fleet of small robots designed to carry out various jobs aboard the space station.
Nasa will test Astrobee, a robot system consisting of three dice-shaped robots and a docking station for recharging; The first two are aboard Cygnus. The free-flowing robots use electric fans for propulsion and cameras and sensors help them navigate their surroundings.
The robots also have an arm to grasp the station's handrails or grab and hold items. Astrobee can operate in automated mode or under remote control as it helps with routine work at the station and does not require crew supervision.
The capsule also contains 40 black laboratory mice, which will be examined to see how their immune system responds to being in space. This experiment should give researchers a better understanding of how the human immune system adapts to the severity.
A bioanalyzer is included in the cargo ship, which makes it possible to control body fluids on board the station in a few hours. Blood, saliva and urine can all be tested with a few drops to determine the number of blood cells within a few hours, eliminating the need to freeze samples to be returned to the ground.
This particular Cygnus is called SS Roger Chaffee, after the youngest of the three astronauts who died in the 1
Another space station delivery should come at the end of the month.
Nasa's other commercial shipper, SpaceX, is due to launch a shipment from Florida on April 26.
SpaceX Dragon capsules have made station deliveries since 2012 and Northrop Grumman's Cygnus capsules since 2013.