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SpaceX rocket sends worms, liquid fuel to Int'l Space Station

6 December 2018 18:19 24
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SpaceX rocket sends worms, liquid fuel to Int'l Space Station

WASHINGTON. KAZINFORM SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft was launched on Wednesday on a way to bring worms, liquid fuel and other new experiments to the International Space Station.

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The spacecraft, riding on a Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off at 1:16 p.m. EST at the Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It is the sixth resupply mission to the space station this year, Xinhua reports.

About 10 minutes after the launch, the spacecraft reached its preliminary orbit, then deployed its solar arrays, starting multiple thruster firings to reach the space station.

The spacecraft, which flew to the space station in February of 2017, is carrying 36,000 roundworms in pouches to the orbiting lab and if goes well, about two or three million ones will come back to earth. It is part of a study that may offer a better understanding of why muscles deteriorate in microgravity.

"They're a great model for using to study human changes, even though they're just a 1-mm-long worm," said Timothy Etheridge, the principal investigator of the mission. "Their muscles are both structurally and functionally extremely similar to people, so even more so when we're talking about understanding muscle changes, worms are a very good model."

The findings can improve methods to help astronauts maintain their strength during future space travel and also lead to new treatments for the elderly who chronically suffer from muscle loss.

Also, a new robotic refueling mission traveling with the Dragon spacecraft called Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM-3) will practice transferring and storing liquid methane in space for the first time.

The ability to resupply propellant and coolant enables longer journeys than a single tank of propellant would allow, which can applied to future human exploration missions, according to NASA.

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