SpaceX launched its 19th cargo mission for NASA Thursday, cramming tons of scientific research and cargo bound for astronauts on board the International Space Station into a capsule carried by a powerful rocket.
The launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida was scheduled to take place Wednesday morning but was canceled because of strong winds.
The company is launching its “Cargo Dragon” capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket for the mission, called CRS-19. The capsule has nearly 3 tons of supplies on board, as well as several research and technology payloads destined for the space station.
The capsule flying for CRS-19 was reused twice before — in 2014 and 2017. This is the second time SpaceX has flown one of its Cargo Dragon capsules on three separate missions.
According to NASA, the spacecraft will deliver “critical materials to directly support” dozens of the more than 250 upcoming “science investigations and technology demonstrations.” The cargo includes an experiment NASA calls “Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity.” The test, led by Budweiser parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev, will test the malting process in the microgravity of space. Anheuser-Busch and NASA hope to understand how to better use the barley malt in making food, such as bread.
The mission also includes what NASA calls a “robot hotel” — a protective storage unit attached to the outside of the International Space Station. It will house robotic tools used to detect gas leaks from the station.
SpaceX also plans to land the Falcon 9 booster, the largest part of the rocket, after the launch on the company’s autonomous boat in the Atlantic Ocean. A few minutes after launch, the booster split off from the rest of the rocket and returned to Earth.
Dragon is scheduled to dock on Saturday.
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