SpaceX has successfully launched their fourteenth International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission. In addition to station supplies, the 600 kilograms (5,800 pounds) of cargo includes a number of scientific experiments to keep the Expedition 55 crew busy.
The Falcon 9 with a Dragon capsule secured atop lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 10:30 GMT (16:30 local time) on April 2. Following successful separation from the rocket’s second stage, the Dragon capsule successfully deployed its solar panels. The capsule is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS on Wednesday, April 4.
Following an approximately one-month mission with the ISS, the Dragon capsule will return to Earth with 1,700 kilograms (3,900 pounds) of cargo. Included in the cargo set to return to Earth are several samples from scientific experiments conducted on the station.
Monday’s Falcon 9 launch also carried an experimental payload know as RemoveDEBRIS. The system, developed by the University of Surrey Space Center will be used to clear space junk.
RemoveDEBRIS will be assembled aboard the ISS with its capabilities being testing on miniature satellites. During testing, Astronauts aboard the ISS will test the effectiveness of the system’s net and retractable harpoon in capturing satellites.
It’s estimated that there are currently over 500,00 pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth including used rocket boosters, defunct satellites and more. The sheer volume of the problem has become increasingly worrisome as countries like the US and China ramp up their space programmes.
Image Credit: SpaceX