SpaceX on December 6 successfully launched its Dragon-2 capsule on a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It will be the second SpaceX capsule in orbit at the same time.
The cargo capsule lifted off on the top of a 65-metre tall Falcon 9 rocket at 11:17 am (local time) from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The first-stage booster, that was making its fourth such flight, landed on a platform in the ocean after the launch.
The 2,900 kg of supplies to the ISS includes Christmas treats, a new device for rapid blood results of astronauts stationed there, and billions of microbes and crushed asteroid samples for biomining studies.
It is reported that 40 mice are a part of the cargo too to be utilised for bone and eye studies to counter the weakness felt by astronauts during long stays.
The Christmas treat for the astronauts is made up of roasted turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, cookies, and icing tubes.
This launch marks SpaceX’s 21st resupply flight to the ISS and it is the first with its new generation of Dragon capsules. It can also take a 20 per cent more volume of cargo than the previous supply ships of SpaceX.
It can be reused up to five times, which is also an improvement over the three-flight use of the first-generation of Dragon capsules. Also, it can stay at the space station for 75 days, according to SpaceX.
The new Dragon capsule can dock with the space station automatically after its planned 26-hours long journey, unlike the past Dragon crafts that had to be captured by astronauts with the help of a robot arm.
Dragon-2 will stay at the space station for about a month when it would undock with previous equipment and fall into the Atlantic Ocean.
NASA had signed a new cargo delivery contract with SpaceX for six upgraded Cargo Dragon space station flights in 2016, which has now been extended to cover nine Dragon missions.