After bad weather at the launch site forced SpaceX to cancel its first attempt, the company is now carrying a fresh load of supplies to the International Space Station. The mission lifted off at around 2:20 pm ET (12:50 am IST) on Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The original launch date had been set for Tuesday, according to SpaceX.
The Dragon cargo spacecraft is carrying more than 7,700 pounds of research, hardware and supplies, according to NASA. It is also carrying dwarf tomato seeds, ice cream and Thanksgiving fare for the astronauts on the space station, such as spicy green beans, cranberry apple desserts, pumpkin pie and candy corn.
Packed inside the @SpaceX#Dragon space freighter is over 7,700 pounds of cargo including new solar arrays, science experiments, station hardware, and crew supplies. https://t.co/yuOTrYN8CVpic.twitter.com/kDa1S8xvtK— International Space Station (@Space_Station) November 27, 2022
During spacewalks scheduled for November 29 and December 3, the solar arrays will be installed outside the floating laboratory. They will provide additional power to the space station.
According to the US Space Agency, researchers have been testing a plant growth unit known as Veggie on the station and have successfully grown a variety of leafy greens. Veg-05, the next step in that work, focuses on growing dwarf tomatoes.
"We are testing tomatoes, looking at the impacts of light spectrum on how well the crop grows, how delicious and nutritious the tomatoes are, and the microbial activity on the fruit and plants," says Gioia Massa, NASA Life Sciences project scientist and VEG-05 principal investigator said in a press release. "We also are examining the overall effect of growing, tending, and eating crops on crew behavioral health. All of this will provide valuable data for future space exploration."
NASA added that tomatoes can be eaten fresh and are nutritious and widely consumed. Red Robin, the dwarf cherry tomato variety used in the study, grew well in the field and produced a large crop of nutritious and tasty fruit.
Other supplies include a Moon Microscope test kit, which will be used for in-flight medical diagnosis. It includes a portable hand-held microscope and a small self-contained blood sample staining device. "The kit could provide diagnostic capabilities for crew members in space or on the surface of the Moon or Mars, as well as the ability to test water, food, and surfaces for contamination," NASA said.
After Dragon spends about a month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.