A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying over 3,500 kilograms of science experiments, crew supplies and other cargo successfully docked with the International Space Station at 7.39 AM EST (6.09 PM IST) on November 27. This mission marks SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply mission.
With the arrival of the CRS-26 cargo Dragon, six spaceships are parked at the space station currently including a Cygnus space freighter, a Crew dragon, the Russian Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 81 and Progress 82 resupply ships. SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft launched from the Kennedy Space Center at 2.20 PM IST on November 26. (12.50 AM IST on November 27)
Adding solar power to the space station
SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply mission carried a set of two International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSA) to the space station. These solar panels roll out using kinetic energy and are aimed at expanding the energy production capabilities of the space station. These new iROSA arrays will be in addition to another set carried to the space station by SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply mission in 2021.
Science experiment on the mission
Apart from the solar arrays and crew supplies, the cargo Dragon spacecraft also carried a host of important science experiments to the International Space Station. One of these is the “Moon microscope,” which is a kit designed for in-flight medical diagnosis. It contains a hand-held microscope and a small blood sampling device.
The Moon microscope is designed to allow astronauts to collect and stain blood samples and transmit images to the ground. These images can then be used by doctors to diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatments.
Another science mission onboard is the Veg-05 which will try to grow dwarf tomatoes in space. Currently, astronauts in space are dependent on pre-packaged food that is made on Earth but according to NASA, this could be supplemented by fresh food grown in space in the future.
Some of the other experiments that hitched the ride to the space station include BioNutrients-2, which tests a system for producing nutrients using yoghurt and other producers, Falcon Googles, which is an experiment aimed at helping scientists understand the effect of different gravities on human eyes.