On Thursday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida bound for the International Space Station. The brand-new rocket carried a previously flown Dragon capsule loaded with supplies and experiments. It marked SpaceX’s 19th trip to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program and the company’s final trip to the station for the decade. After the rocket booster sent its payload on its way, it successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The Dragon capsule will return to Earth in about a month.
Science experiments account for roughly a third of the weight that SpaceX delivered to the world’s premier orbital laboratory. On the physics side, astronauts will use the equipment to study the behavior of fire in microgravity and update the Cold Atom Lab on the station, which has the distinction of being the coldest place in the known universe. There were also some biology experiments on board. Forty live mice will be used to study how muscles degrade in space, and the brewer Anheuser-Busch sent up some barley seeds to study how the space environment affects germination and malting as part of its ongoing quest to make Budweiser the “first beer on Mars.”
The CRS-19 mission kicked off a busy month for SpaceX that rounds out an otherwise slow year. In 2018, SpaceX racked up a record 21 launches, but today’s launch was just the 12th for the year. Still, the company has a few more launches to go before it rings in the new decade.
In mid-December SpaceX will launch a telecommunications satellite that will provide broadband services to islands in the Pacific and southeast Asia. SpaceX is also expected to launch 60 more of its Starlink internet satellites and conduct an in-flight abort test that will jettison its Crew Dragon capsule mid-flight, but it has not announced dates for either of these missions.
Updated 12-5-19, 11:30 am ET: The post was updated to revise the estimated launch time.
Updated 12-5-19, 4:30 pm ET: The post was updated to reflect the successful mission.
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