The SpaceX Dragon aircraft will be carried by the Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday. This is SpaceX’s 19th resupply mission to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program. The space capsule will be carrying over 5,700 lbs. (2,585 kilograms) of crew supplies and scientific equipment. Less than half of the supplies are meant for scientific experiments.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket might mice

Aerial view of Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The site had previously been used by the U.S. Air Force to launch Titan rockets. (Source: SpaceX)

SpaceX to launch beer experiment & might mice

The cargo supplies are made of an interesting mix. It is carrying equipment for 38 scientific experiments, 23 of which are new. The other 54 are a return of samples and more supplies for the ongoing experiments. Among the new investigations is a Mexican satellite, named AzTechSat-1, an experiment equipment to track the behavior of flames in space, advanced imaging systems, and 45 mice to find out specific physiological changes in muscle mass in space.

The mice for the experiment are particularly muscular or “mighty” as they are dubbed, to track how muscles degrade in space to help in maintaining the health of astronauts in space. Called the Rodent Research-19 experiment, some mice were genetically engineered to curtail the growth of myostatin, a protein that limits muscle growth. This allowed the mice to grow double skeletal mass compared to normal ones.

Along with the mighty mice, some normal mice are also being sent, who will be administered the protein myostatin. This will help in observing the behavior of these mice in microgravity environment and show how monitoring myostatin can prevent muscle loss in the astronauts. Astronauts who live in space for a long time are known to suffer from muscle and bone atrophy.

The experiment may have applications for people suffering from muscle and bone loss back on earth, according to researcher Se-Jin Lee, involved in the experiment.

Anheuser Busch has plans to brew beer on Mars. And to this end, it has been sending barley seeds to the ISS since 2017 in the hope of brewing beer in space.

Learning the behavior of barley & fire flames in space

This is their fourth attempt at learning the behavior of barley in space. During this resupply mission of SpaceX, the brewing experiment will go one step further to find out the malting ability of barley seeds in microgravity, an important step in the beer-making process. The research team at Anhewuser-Bausch is further looking at hardware solutions to sport barely malting at the ISS.

Along with this, research will be done on the behavior of fire flames in confined spaces in gravity-less places. This will improve safety in space and give a greater understanding of the physics of combustion in microgravity spaces.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon

Falcon Heavy and Dragon (Image Credit: SpaceX)

The advanced imaging systems that the capsule is carrying will take high-resolution images in all colors of the spectrum of the Earth’s surface.

The AztechSat-1 microsatellite from Mexico will conduct experiments on the ability of small satellites,  4-inch (10 centimeters) by 4-inch (10 cm) nano CubeSats, to communicate with the Globalstar constellation satellite network in low Earth orbit.

The experiment is being led by a team of students and could help in cutting satellite communication costs.