SpaceX launch squid and tardigrades aboard Dragon spacecraft

SpaceX has successfully launched its 22nd International Space Station resupply mission carrying science experiments, cargo for the crew and equipment for the orbiting laboratory.
The SpaceX CRS-22 mission was launched aboard a Falcon 9 June 3 carrying 3,328 kilograms of supplies for the International Space Station | Image credit: NASA/Tony Gray & Kevin O’Connell

The 22nd SpaceX International Space Station resupply mission launched aboard a Dragon spacecraft June 3 carrying 3,328 kilograms of cargo including science experiments and the station’s new solar arrays.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was launched atop a Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Center at 17:29 UTC. Approximately 12 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft was successfully separated from the rocket’s upper stage to begin its two-day chase to rendezvous with the ISS.

Carrying 1,948 kilograms of pressurised cargo and 1,380 kilograms of unpressurised cargo in its trunk, the CRS-22 Dragon spacecraft will rendezvous and autonomously dock with the station’s Harmony module at 09:49 UTC on June 5.

A wide array of experiments that will be conducted by the crew of the ISS make up a portion of the pressurised cargo. Two of these experiments aim to examine how microgravity in low Earth orbit affects the lives of squids and tardigrades.

The Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions (UMAMI) study will make use of bobtail squid and bacteria to examine how spaceflight affects the relationship between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts. Researchers expect that the study will give them a glimpse into what effects spaceflight will have on this symbiotic relationship in humans during long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.

The Cell Science-04 experiment seeks to identify the genes and environmental factors that allow tardigrades to survive and adapt in high-stress environments. The results of this experiment are expected to assist researchers with understanding the specific stress factors that affect humans in space.

The largest items being transported to the orbiting laboratory aboard the Dragon spacecraft are a pair of new solar arrays for the ISS.

Supplied by Boeing and built by Redwire, the ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays (iROSA) are the first two of six new solar arrays for the station. The highly efficient arrays will supplement the station’s current solar arrays which after more than a decade of continual use are starting to show signs of degradation.

Once the Dragon spacecraft docks with the ISS, the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm will be used to extract the new solar arrays for installation during spacewalks currently slated for June 16 and 20.

The CRS-22 Dragon spacecraft will remain docked to the station for approximately 30 days. Once its mission is complete, it will undock from the orbiting outpost and return to Earth carrying about 2,400 kilograms of experiments and equipment.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.