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

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

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

According to the website space.com, 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 pm from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And you can follow the launch in real time on NASA TV, starting at 5:30 pm. (All times mentioned are based on Brasilia time zone).

If everything goes as planned, the docking to the orbital laboratory will take place on Wednesday (23), at 7:57 am, with live transmission starting at 6:30 am.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Space

As Thursday (24) is Thanksgiving Day, one of the most important holidays in the United States, a variety of mouth-watering special foods will also be sent by the resupply mission, including ice cream, seasoned 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 continuous production system for fresh food in space. This time, the fifth stage of the research will be launched, with the shipment of Red Robin dwarf cherry tomatoes.

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The most recently launched Veggie experiment for 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,” said Gioia Massa, a NASA space crop production scientist and principal investigator for the Veg-05 project, at a conference 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 large 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, who will try to discover how to keep these thirsty plants well watered, without soaking. “Astronauts will eat the tomatoes in orbit to taste them,” Gioia said, adding that researchers are already discussing how to improve irrigation 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 easy-to-carry space products like yogurt are other examples of science . taken 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 orbital 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 useful life.

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 must be installed during a spacewalk scheduled for Monday (28th) and another on the following Thursday (1st).

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