Dragon Loaded With Supplies & Experiments for ISS Crew

SpaceX launched its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:31 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. (Credit: NASA Television)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments seeking a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease and the origin of cosmic rays are on their way to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft following today’s 12:31 p.m. EDT launch.

Carrying more than 6,400 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies, the spacecraft lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the company’s 12th commercial resupply mission. It will arrive at the space station Wednesday, Aug. 16, at which time astronauts Jack Fischer of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture it.

NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of spacecraft rendezvous and capture beginning at 5:30 a.m., followed by installation coverage at 8:30 a.m.

Research materials flying inside the Dragon’s pressurized area include an experiment to grow large crystals of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), a protein believed to be the greatest genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease. Gravity keeps Earth-grown versions of this protein too small and too compact to study. This experiment, developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Anatrace and Com-Pac International, will exploit the benefits of microgravity to grow larger, more perfectly-shaped LRRK2 crystals for analysis on Earth. Results from this study could help scientists better understand Parkinson’s and aid in the development of therapies.

The Kestrel Eye (NanoRacks-KE IIM) investigation is a microsatellite carrying an optical imaging payload, including a commercially available telescope. This investigation, sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory, tests the concept of using microsatellites in low-Earth orbit to support critical operations, such as lowering the cost of Earth imagery in time-sensitive situations such as tracking severe weather and detecting natural disasters.

The Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass instrument will be attached to the Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility on the space station, and measure the charges of cosmic rays. The data collected from its three-year mission will address fundamental questions about the origins and histories of cosmic rays, building a stronger understanding of the basic structure of the universe.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station in mid-September, returning more than 3,300 pounds of science, hardware and crew supplies to Earth.

For more than 16 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth to enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 1,900 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.

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  • Saturn13

    Here is my new theory on why the F-9 blew up on the pad. Metal fatigue or metal stretching. They found cavities between the carbon fiber and metal liner. The carbon would not deform. The metal liner had to have a dimple in it. The only way it could form is if there was not 5000 psi in the helium tank. The LOX was loaded with no pressure in the helium tank. The LOX tank self pressured and the pressure got to the liner causing dimples. This may have stretched the metal making it weak or several loading cycles caused metal fatigue and it cracked. When they found the helium tank there was the dimples since there was never full pressure in the helium tank to push the dimples out. They then started helium flow and it went through the crack and pressurized the LOX tank blowing it out. If the carbon fiber had burned there would not be any dimples since the 5000 psi would have straighten them out.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    The same thing happened when the Saturn 5 launch vehicle was being built. SpaceX didn’t learn from history until they repeated it.

  • perilun

    Glad to see another SpaceX success … but they seem to be changing from sci-fi vision to a business focused set of timelines and priorities as they have taken the knocks resulting from over confidence. That on-pad failure was a real wake up call. Their real differentiater seems to be first stage reuse, which has had a nice string of successes. Its not launch rate yet, its not reliability yet, its not Dragon 2 propulsive landing yet, its not FH yet. With first stage reuse it is potentially a nice price and cost cutter but without a new class of F9 missions that do not depend on expensive and unique payloads I wonder about the effective long term value. Maybe a fleet of cubesats would fill the bill. The best would be food-water-fuel missions to supply some human space endeavor. Putting a lot of fuel on orbit could cut the flight time to Mars dramatically. In the shorter term I wonder about a sub-orbital tourist application. Say 20 people in a glassy bolted on upper stage that is launched and returned vertically. I wonder how long of a ride it might be and what fraction would be zero-G. This would seem to be less stressing than the usual first stage return.