The International Space Station has been a busy place for astronauts these last couple of weeks. It was visited by more than one space capsule and the men and women there are getting busy with everything they’ve received.
Image Credit: NASA via Pixabay
A SpaceX Dragon capsule arrived and docked successfully at the International Space Station’s Harmony module on February 23rd. It was carrying a truckload of science experiments that are intended for deployment in space to advance human knowledge.
The following day, a Russian Progress 66 capsule docked with the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station. This capsule was carrying even more important supplies for the astronauts.
This was the first time in several months that the SpaceX Dragon capsule has docked with the International Space Station, and it will now remain attached to the International Space Station for at least two more weeks before returning to Earth. It's also worth noting that each and every successful uncrewed Dragon capsule launch brings SpaceX one step closer to their future crewed Dragon capsule missions, which are expected as soon as next year.
You can watch the docking via NASA's YouTube channel:
In terms of the science experiments, astronauts started activating them as soon as four days after the Dragon capsule docked. These experiments will teach scientists more about the effects of space on things like bones, muscles, and cells. Other experiments will help further our knowledge about plant life and protein crystals in space.
Some of these experiments, which examine the health of the body over time, are being conducted with live lab rats. These have been placed in special habitats on the International Space Station, while stem cell studies are being conducted with frozen stem cells to see how replication is affected in microgravity.
In terms of plants, NASA is testing the growth of certain plant types on the International Space Station to see how they grow in outer space, which is expected to be a very important part of keeping astronauts well-nourished and providing them with oxygen on long-term space missions, which are expected to take their course within the next few decades.
Expedition 50, which consists of the current crew aboard the International Space Station, is dealing with all of this new equipment and setting up the experiments. They’ve recently passed 100 days in space, and are scheduled to return to Earth by June 2nd, which makes for a grand total of 197 days.
With all of the new supplies and experiments that have arrived, Expedition 50 will be busy for the rest of the time they still have left to spend at the International Space Station before returning to Earth and being replaced by Expedition 51.