SpaceX Launches Solar Panels, Fresh Food, And Tiny Sea Critters To International Space Station – CBS Miami

CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami) – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered away from Cape Canaveral on Thursday and headed for the International Space Station to boost the laboratory’s performance.

Astronauts will take two space walks late this month to aid in the installation of the two roll-out panels next to the solar wings, which have been in continuous operation for 20 years.

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The new arrays will complement the eight larger wings that are part of the station’s original equipment and compensate for the age-related dismantling. Once all six new arrays are installed in a $ 103 million upgrade, total power generation will increase by 20 to 30 percent, roughly the same as the original arrays when they were new.

“The new solar panels … allow us to continue the science and research programs we have on board,” said Joel Montalbano, space station program manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The brand new Dragon cargo capsule also carries thousands of tiny marine life. There are 20,000 water bears, better known as water bears, and 128 bobtail squids, as well as chilli plants and cotton saplings.

Tardigrade can survive in harsh environments on Earth and even in the vacuum of space. These microscopic extremophiles are launched frozen and thawed and resuscitated on board the space station. By identifying the genes behind the animals’ adaptability, the scientists hope to better understand the stresses and strains on the human body during long stays in space.

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The baby bobtail squid is part of a study examining the relationship between beneficial bacteria and their animal hosts.

The cargo also contains saliva and oral bacteria samples from dental patients treated with toothpaste and mouthwash in an experiment to keep the teeth and gums of astronauts in space healthy.

There are fresh apples, oranges, cherry tomatoes, onions, lemons, peppers and avocados, as well as coffee, tea and other menu items.

If all goes well, the spaceship will fly to a docking station on the station’s front Harmony module early on Saturday.

This is SpaceX’s 22nd station supply run for NASA. The space agency turned to private companies to move cargo and astronauts after the shuttles retired a decade ago.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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