We have lift off! The 19th supply mission took off yesterday for the International Space Station. So what essential supplies are needed by the six astronauts on board?
Six astronauts are currently living on the International Space Station (ISS). The team includes three Americans, two Russians and one Italian crew member.
The current mission began in October 2019, and will last six months in total. NASA explains that ISS expeditions tend to be an average of six months, but the longest mission lasted 437 days.
SpaceX is a commercial company founded in 2002 with the extraordinary goal to establish ways for humans to live on other planets; what do you think of that for a business plan! SpaceX has completed over 100 successful missions earning over $12 billion.
The company works with NASA, in particular in providing their Dragon spacecraft. This vehicle is commissioned to provide transport for the NASA Commercial Crew Program and is currently flying supplies to the ISS as part of the contract.
This is the 19th Commercial Resupply Service, i.e. CRS-19. The Dragon is the third mission to be dispatched. The flight was rescheduled following a failed launch the day before because of high winds.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched yesterday, carrying ‘supplies and material that will directly support dozens of science and research investigations taking place during Expeditions 61 and 62. The spacecraft also is carrying the Japanese government’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI), a next-generation, hyperspectral Earth imaging system‘.
Delivery will take three days.
What is on board?
For six months living on the space station, what supplies are essential?
- Barley grains for a beer-malting space test
- Cimon, a 3D printed robot head which is an upgrade on the current prototype but has now been upgraded to have AI capabilities
- Forty mice, of which eight are ‘muscle mice’ and have been genetically engineered with double the normal muscle mass
Whilst NASA won’t confirm whether Christmas gifts are on board for their dedicated astronauts, it seems that there will be some nice festive surprises! NASA says that, ‘Santa’s sleigh is certified for the vacuum of space.’
Cyber cross overs
A Falcon 9 also uses over 140 tonnes of Kerosene in every launch. This is only around half of the volume used by a Boeing 747 international flight but the location where these carbon emissions are deposited means that the environmental impact is completely different.
Researchers have identified that one rocket can punch a 900km wide hole in the ionosphere. The long term impacts of space travel are still being determined.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 5, 2019
Whilst the new Cybertruck is fully electric, I have to ask the question; how many fuel powered pick-ups need to be replaced with clean energy in order to offset one space mission?
That said, space travel captures the imagination like little else. The concept of living in space in view of Earth is fascinating. If SpaceX does ever reach their ultimate mission, it will surely be the biggest impact on human life that the world (or rather, the Earth) has ever known.
What are your thoughts on space travel? Should NASA be using private commercial companies? How many years do you think it might be before flights in space become accessible to the public? What couldn’t you live without for six months? Let us know what you think!