Important research and cargo are on their way to the International Space Station after being launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is known as Dragon. This key information will help NASA astronauts better prepare for future missions to Mars. Approximately two tons of cargo is on its way to the International Space Station. The rocket lifted off on April 14, 2015 from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with this being the sixth resupply mission to date to the station.
During the early stages of the three-day flight, things seemed to be running smoothly. An attempt was made to touch down on a barge stationed about 200 miles east of Jacksonville to drive lower launch costs, but was not successful. The Rocket did land on the barge, but tipped over after landing. Photos taken from the scene showed black smoke spiraling around the base of the spacecraft. Earlier attempts had been made to land on the barge, however, stormy weather and technical issues, which were later resolved, interfered.
This was not the first attempt made to deliver cargo and research to the space station. An effort made back in January proved unsuccessful when the booster tumbled off the platform. The mission in February was also unsuccessful due to rough seas. The platform that the rocket tumbled off of back in January had been enhanced to better hold its position but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated that the odds of the rocket landing safely were less than 50%.
Fortunately, the cargo decoupled properly and is now in orbit around the earth and should reach the International Space Station early Friday morning (April 17th), despite all of the complications. However, the rocket used to propel the cargo was totaled as it tried to land safely back at the landing platform. Luckily, no one was on board who could have been harmed and the research and cargo are on their way to the International Space Station.
Sadly, the rocket was intended to be reusable as this would have saved plenty of time and money. The CEO of SpaceX has said that “such technology could slash the cost of space flight by a factor of 100”. Regardless of the Falcon 9 crash, Dragon which was carrying the research and cargo still completed its intended mission by reaching orbit. SpaceX is required to complete to fly at least twelve supply missions to the International Space Station as they signed a $1.6 billion contract which NASA. Dragon, on this particular mission, is “carrying more than 4,300 pounds of food, scientific experiments, and other supplies to the space station”. Also, an expresso coffee machine was included as part of the research and cargo materials and this is called ISSpresso. Such items are said to boost the astronaut’s spirits and make them feel better during their space travel.
Dragon will stay with the International Space Station for five weeks, then it will return to earth will the remaining trash and completed experiments. No other research and cargo vessel is meant to survive a return trip to earth. Even with all of the many obstacles, the SpaceX rocket Dragon successfully completed its mission and the research and cargo are on making their way to the station.
By Heather Granruth