The first commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station is set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center Sunday evening. From the space station crew's standpoint, some of the most precious cargo could well be ice cream.
The first commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station is set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Sunday evening – kicking off a series of at least 12 resupply missions NASA has ordered up under a $1.6-billion contract with Space Exploration Technologies, based in Hawthorne, Calif.
The mission, utilizing SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket topped with the company's cargo-carrying Dragon capsule, follows on the heels of a successful test flight to the space station in May.
During that mission, Dragon delivered just over 1,000 pounds of cargo that NASA officials said wouldn't represent a significant set-back for the space-station program if something went wrong during the mission. This time, Dragon is carrying 882 pounds (nearly a ton when packaging is included) of more-precious cargo: experiments and hardware for the US, European, and Japanese laboratories; additional components needed to maintain the station; and crew supplies.
From the space station crew's standpoint, some of the most precious of all the cargo could well be ice cream Dragon is bringing up – not the freeze-dried kind, but real ice cream, kept in a new lab freezer Dragon will deliver. It's part of a shipment of "bonus food" the space agency periodically sends. The freezer is designed to preserve samples from biology and life-science experiments running on the station for return to Earth.