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SpaceX’s 26th commercial launch is set to launch this weekend, and it will carry loads of supplies to the International Space Station, a pair of new solar arrays, dwarf tomato seeds and a number of science experiments.
The mission will also deliver ice cream and Thanksgiving-style treats, including spicy green beans, cran-apple desserts, pumpkin pie and candy corn, to the space station crew.
The Dragon spacecraft was scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday with its 7,700-pound (3,493-kilogram) payload, but the launch was delayed due to bad weather. It is now scheduled to rise on Saturday, November 26 at 2:20 PM ET.
The International Space Station’s Roll Out Solar Arrays, or iROSAs, will be installed outside the floating lab during spacewalks scheduled for Nov. 29 and Dec. 3. Solar arrays will power the space station.
The load includes a number of health-related items, e.g Lunar microscope kit🇧🇷 A portable handheld microscope will allow astronauts to collect images of blood samples and send them to flight surgeons on the ground for diagnosis and treatment.
Nutrients are a key component of maintaining health in space. But compared to the packaged meals astronauts eat during their six months in low-Earth orbit, there is little fresh produce on the space station.
“For our exploration purposes at NASA, it’s important enough to provide the crew not only with nutrition, but also with different types of plants as food sources that we would have difficulty sustaining on long trips between distant destinations. Like Mars, etc.” said Kirt Costello, chief scientist of NASA’s International Space Station Program and deputy manager of the ISS Research Integration Office.
Astronauts have grown and tasted different types of lettuce, radishes and chilies on the International Space Station. Now crew members can add some dwarf tomatoes, specifically Red Robin tomatoes, to the list of space-grown salad ingredients.
The experiment, known as Lettuce-Productivity, Nutrient Value and Adoption to Add the ISS Food System, is part of an effort to ensure continuous production of fresh food in space.
Dwarf tomato seeds will be grown under two different lighting conditions to measure the effect on how many tomatoes can be harvested, as well as the nutritional value and taste of the plants. Red Robin tomatoes will also be grown in the ground as a control experiment. Two crops will be compared to measure the effect of a zero gravity environment on tomato growth.
The space tomatoes will be grown inside small bags called plant pads installed in the Vegetable Production System, known as the Vegetable Growth Chamber, on the space station. Astronauts will water and feed the plants frequently as they grow, as well as pollinate the flowers.
“Tomatoes will be a new adventure for us on the Veggie team, trying to figure out how to water these thirsty plants well without overwatering them,” said Gioia Massa, NASA space crop production scientist and principal investigator of the tomato study.
Tomatoes will be ready for the first taste test in spring.
The crew expects three tomato harvests 90, 97 and 104 days after the plants start growing. During the taste tests, the crew will evaluate the taste, aroma, juiciness and texture of tomatoes grown under two different lighting methods. Half of each tomato crop will be frozen and returned to Earth for analysis.
Growing plants on a space station provides only fresh food and opportunity creative taco nightsit can also boost crew morale during a long space flight.
Astronauts will also take surveys to monitor their mood while caring for and interacting with plants to see how growing seedlings enhances their experience in the isolation and confinement of the space station.
The apparatus is still in development for larger crops on the space station and eventually on other planets, but scientists are already planning which plants can grow best on the Moon and Mars. A team earlier this year he successfully grew plants in the soil of the moon Includes samples collected during the Apollo missions.
“Tomatoes will be a great crop for the month,” Massa said. “They’re very nutritious, very tasty, and we think astronauts will be very excited to grow them there.”
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