SpaceX Dragon Heads to Space Station With NASA Science (Study)

Upgraded science

for the Cold Atom Lab – built and operated by NASA’s

Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California – is among the cargo onboard

the Dragon spacecraft. The experimental physics facility allows scientists to
investigate nature at the very smallest scales, and may

pave the way for new quantum technologies.

For more information about the launch,

read on.

A SpaceX

Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching

at 12:29 p.m. EST today (Dec. 5). Dragon will deliver more than 5,700 pounds of

NASA cargo and science investigations, including studies of malting barley in

microgravity, the spread of fire, and bone and muscle loss.


spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape

Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is scheduled to arrive at the orbital

outpost on Sunday, Dec. 8. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival at

the space station will begin at 4:30 a.m. EST on NASA Television and the agency’s



will join three other spacecraft currently at the station. Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano

of ESA (European Space Agency) will grapple Dragon with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup. NASA’s

Jessica Meir will

assist the duo by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. Coverage of

robotic installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin

at 8 a.m. EST.


delivery, SpaceX’s 19th cargo flight to the space station under NASA’s

Commercial Resupply Services contract, will support dozens of new and existing

investigations. NASA’s research and development work aboard the space station

contributes to the agency’s deep space exploration plans, including future Moon

and Mars missions.

Here are

details about some of the scientific investigations Dragon is delivering:


Better Picture of Earth’s Surface

The Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) is a next-generation, hyperspectral Earth imaging system. Every

material on Earth’s surface – rocks, soil, vegetation, snow/ice and human-made

objects – has a unique reflectance spectrum. HISUI provides space-based

observations for tasks such as resource exploration and applications in

agriculture, forestry and other environmental areas.

Malting Barley in


Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity tests an automated malting

procedure and compares malt produced in space and on the ground for genetic and

structural changes. Understanding how barley responds to microgravity could

identify ways to adapt it for nutritional use on long-duration spaceflights.

Spread of Fire


Confined Combustion investigation examines the

behavior of flames as they spreads in differently shaped confined spaces in

microgravity. Studying flames in microgravity gives researchers a better

look at the underlying physics and basic principles of combustion by removing

gravity from the equation.

Keeping Bones and Muscles



Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin,

molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible

targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery

following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of

therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on


Checking for Leaks

NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a

docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (
RELL) units

to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to

deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool

that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and

rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any

place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually

habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.


are just a few of the hundreds of investigations providing opportunities for U.S.

government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions

to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical

treatments and products that improve life on Earth. Conducting science aboard

the orbiting laboratory will help us learn how to keep astronauts healthy

during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human

and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon

and Mars


almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked

continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge

and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible

on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep

space. As a global endeavor, more than 230 people from 18 countries have

visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,500

research investigations from researchers in 106 countries.

For more information about

the International Space Station, its research, and crew, visit:

News Media Contact

Calla Cofield
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
[email protected]

Kathryn Hambleton

Headquarters, Washington


[email protected]

Courtney Beasley

Johnson Space Center, Houston


[email protected]


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