SpaceX launched the Dragon from Cape Canaveral on Friday, this time, Elon Musk decided to use a previously flown Falcon rocket. Santa style haul became a real gift for the NASA astronauts.
It was the first time SpaceX had flown a recycled rocket with a recycled capsule on top, at the heart of the company’s effort to drive down launch costs.
The Dragon holds nearly 5,000 pounds of station goods, including lab mice and barley seeds, the latter a Budweiser experiment. The beer maker — eager to serve the first brews on Mars — wants to see how well the 20 barley seeds sprout in weightlessness. As for Christmas presents, NASA isn’t saying, in pure Santa style!
According to NASA, SpaceX plans to keep its Dragon at the orbiting outpost until mid-January, that’s great news for Elon Musk’s corporation and one of the best gifts for the upcoming Christmas. The Dragon is the only supply ship capable of returning experiments to Earth; all the others burn up on re-entry.
NASA has been relying on commercial shippers SpaceX and Orbital ATK to keep the space station well-stocked, ever since the shuttles retired in 2011. Russia also has a fleet of cargo carriers.
“It’s a great day to see Dragon back at ISS again,”
Mission Control radioed.
Replied spaceman Joe Acaba:
“It’s a beautiful spacecraft, and we’re looking forward to digging into it and getting some science on board.”
Elon Musk is full of ideas how to supply ISS with the needed stuff, so next January will be even more interesting for both NASA and SpaceX founder, no doubt.