SpaceX launches dwarf tomatoes and other experiments to ISS; know how to look

A series of science experiments, in addition to new solar panels for the International Space Station (ISS), will launch to the orbital laboratory later this Tuesday afternoon (22), aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule.

A Falcon 9 rocket ready for launch from the LC39-A platform at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Picture: SpaceX

According to the website, the 26th commercial ISS resupply mission operated by SpaceX under contract with NASA (CRS-26) will lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 5:54 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And you can follow the launch in real time on NASA TV, starting at 5:30 p.m. (All times mentioned are based on Brasilia time zone).

If all goes as planned, docking with the orbital laboratory will take place on Wednesday (23), at 7:57 a.m., with a live broadcast starting at 6:30 a.m.

Thanksgiving dinner in space

Since Thursday (24) is Thanksgiving Day, one of the most important holidays in the United States, a mouth-watering variety of special foods will also be sent by the resupply mission, including ice cream, spiced green beans, garnishes, sweet corn and other traditional delicacies. .

Speaking of food, one of the charges involves experience Vegetarian vegetable production system (Veggie), which consists of efforts to meet the need for a system of continuous production of fresh food in space. This time, the fifth stage of research will be launched, with the shipment of Red Robin dwarf cherry tomatoes.

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The most recently launched Veggie experiment to the International Space Station, Veg-04, which grows Mizuna mustard in space. Image: NASA

“Researchers have learned a lot from the successful ripening of peppers over the past year,” Gioia Massa, NASA space crop production scientist and principal investigator of the Veg-05 project, told a conference. release earlier this month.

“To date, this is the longest plant growing experience we’ve had on the space station,” she said of the peppers. “It was 135 days, and the astronauts pollinated the fruit. We received a huge amount of data. We learned better ways to fertilize as part of this.

According to the scientist, tomatoes will be a new adventure for the Veggie team, which will try to figure out how to keep these thirsty plants well watered, without overwatering. “Astronauts will eat the tomatoes in orbit to taste them,” Gioia said, adding that researchers are already discussing how to improve watering physics for low-gravity environments on the Moon or Mars.

A microscope to analyze changes in the crew’s immune system, liquid resin technology to create larger structures, equipment to capture images of astronauts’ eyes, and a system to create nutrients from food easy-to-carry space products like yogurt are other examples of science. carried away by the CRS-26 mission.

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SpaceX brings new solar panels to the space station

In addition to all this scientific equipment, the Dragon cargo capsule is delivering new solar panels to the space station to continue powering the orbiting complex.

The ISS backbone networks were installed during the station’s first major construction phase in the early 2000s. Over time, these structures naturally deteriorate, producing less power. All ISS arrays are operating beyond their estimated 15-year lifespan.

Called iROSA (short for something like “ISS roll solar arrays”), these panels are designed to be deployed over the primaries, so as to partially overlap the larger original structures. There are six iROSA installations planned, and astronauts have already installed two and assembled hardware for three more — those embarking on the CRS-26 mission.

Capable of generating up to 20 kilowatts of power, the new grids, working alongside the still exposed parts of the old grids, will increase the space station’s electricity supply by 20-30%. They should be installed during a spacewalk scheduled for Monday (28) and another the following Thursday (1).

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