CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – 3 tons of science experiments covering a wide range of science disciplines are flying to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on a NASA contracted resupply mission launching later this week from the Florida Space Coast.
Blastoff of the ‘used’ SpaceX Falcon 9 and ‘used’ Dragon CRS-15 commercial cargo freighter is now slated for dawn Friday, June 29 at 5:42 a.m. EDT (0942 GMT) from seaside Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Dragon CRS-15 is loaded with nearly 3 tons of science and supplies for the six person crew aboard the ISS.
The 20-foot high, 12-foot-diameter Dragon CRS-15 vessel is jam packed with more than 5,900 pounds (about 2,700 kilograms) of science experiments, research hardware, space parts, food water, clothing and more supplies for the six person Expedition 56 crew.
This is the 15th SpaceX resupply mission launched under the original commercial resupply contract (CRS) with NASA.
The spacecraft will deliver almost 6000 pounds of supplies and science that studies the use of artificial intelligence, plant water use all over the planet, gut health in space, more efficient drug development and the formation of inorganic structures without the influence of Earth’s gravity, according to NASA.
One of the key technology demonstration experiments involves artificial intelligence and is known as CIMON, which stands for Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN.
CIMON is the size of a medicine ball sized and functions as a free flying mobile and autonomous assistance system designed to aid astronauts with their everyday tasks on the ISS by using Watson AI technology from the IBM cloud.
One of CIMON´s exercises on the International Space Station ISS will involve a Rubik´s Cube. Credit: DLR
CIMON is significant in being the first form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the space station. It was developed by prime contractor Airbus (Friedrichshafen/Bremen, Germany) in cooperation with DLR, the German Aerospace Center.
“AI-based technology is about constantly understanding, reasoning and learning, so CIMON is designed to assist and to create a feeling of talking to a crew mate”, says DLR.
CIMON has the ability to learn and offer solutions to problems. It it equipped with a face and voice uses artificial intelligence to becomes a genuine ‘colleague’ on board, says DLR.
The chemical garden experiment will grow colorful inorganic chemical structures in microgravity.
Classical chemical garden formed by the addition of cobalt, copper, iron, nickel, and zinc salts to a sodium silicate solution. Image courtesy of the Oliver Steinbock chemistry group at Florida State University.
Also as part of CRS-15 and under the CRS contract, the Dragon spacecraft “will haul approximately 300 kilograms of research and hardware facilities under the ISS U.S. National Laboratory flight allocation” said the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) which manages the ISS National Lab for NASA.
“As part of this mission, there are multiple payloads funded through outside organizations that are destined for station. Through a joint CASIS and National Science Foundation partnership, researchers from University of California-Santa Barbara will evaluate forces between particles that cluster together such as sediments of quartz and clay particles, which could play an important role in technological efforts related to deep sea hydrocarbon drilling and sequestration. Additionally, startup company Angiex (funded in part by Boeing through the MassChallenge Startup Accelerator) has developed a cancer therapy that regresses tumor cells in model organisms. As part of this mission, Angiex will culture endothelial cells in microgravity, which could create an important model system for evaluating the action of any vascular-targeted drug. Use of this model may enable the development of a novel therapy with lower toxicity and the potential to be effective against most cancers.”
“This launch represents the incredible amount of diversity that resides within the ISS National Lab project portfolio,” said CASIS Interim Chief Operating Officer Warren Bates. “The breadth of experimentation on this mission showcases the capabilities of station and equally demonstrates the desire by outside funding entities and agencies to invest in research on this incredible learning platform.”
One of the last hurdles to launch was cleared this past Saturday, June 23 when the SpaceX team successfully ignited all nine Merlin 1D first stage engines for a brief firing lasting several seconds in duration of the recycled Falcon 9 vehicle at 5:30 p.m. EDT on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL.
Check out my exclusive Space UpClose photos capturing the test firing, water spout and wild weather this Saturday afternoon, June 23.
Blastoff of SpaceX ‘Flight-proven’ Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon CRS-14 cargo ship from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, on April 2 at 4:33 pm EDT to the ISS. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
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