SpaceX launches ants, avocados, robot to space station

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 public domain
On Sunday, a SpaceX cargo of ants and avocados as well as a robotic arm human-sized rocketed towards the International Space Station.

The Monday delivery is the 23rd NASA order for the company in less than a decade.

Recycled Falcon rockets blasted into predawn skies from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon capsule was lifted by the first-stage booster and landed on SpaceX's new ocean platform, "A Shortfall Of Gravitas". SpaceX founder Elon Musk continues his tradition of naming booster-recovery vessels to honor the late science fiction writer Iain Banks' Culture series.

The Dragon carries more than 4,800 lb (2,170 kg) of supplies, experiments and fresh food, including avocados and lemons for the seven astronauts on board.

Girl Scouts will send up ants, brine shrimp, and plants to be tested. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are also flying up seeds from mouse-ear créss, which is a small flowering weed that's used in genetic research. Weightlessness will also be applied to samples of concrete, solar cell and other materials.

The Japanese start-up company will use its experimental robotic arm to attach items in orbital debut. It will also perform mundane tasks normally performed by astronauts. The space station will host the first tests. Chief technology officer Toyotaka Kozuki stated that future models of Gitai Inc. robots will venture into space to perform satellite and other repair jobs.

He said that a squad of these arms could be deployed to the lunar base and mining the moon's precious resources as early as 2025.

SpaceX had to abandon some of its experiments due to delays caused by COVID-19.

It was the second attempt at launch; Saturday's attempt was thwarted by severe weather.

After the 2011 end of the space shuttle program, NASA turned to SpaceX to transport cargo and crews to space station.

Learn more Old SpaceX capsule sends new crew to the space station

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