16 August, 2017
The International Space Station, or ISS, received some interesting supplies Wednesday: ice cream and live mice.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule connected with the ISS after a two-day flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
American astronaut Jack Fisher used the space station's robotic arm to capture the Dragon capsule. At the time, they were traveling 400 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean, near New Zealand.
Most of the 3-ton load is for research. But the capsule also brought a sweet treat. The United States space agency, NASA, added vanilla, chocolate and birthday cake ice cream to the food supplies. That last flavor came just in time to celebrate American astronaut Randolph Bresnik's birthday. He recently reached the ISS, and turns 50 next month.
Bresnik's crewmate Peggy Whitson will also probably enjoy the treats. She has been on the ISS since November.
"Congratulations on a job well done," Mission Control radioed from Houston. "You guys have just won yourselves some fresh food."
The Dragon also brought an extra-large science cargo. Among the supplies is an instrument to find cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are particles that hit the Earth from anywhere beyond its atmosphere.
The U.S. Army also put a small satellite on board to be released from the station this fall. It has low-cost cameras and telescopes. The military wants to see how small satellites like this might help ground operations.
The 20 live mice shipped to the station will be used in a study of an eye problem. Some male astronauts have suffered this problem in space. Scientists will study the pressure in the animals' eyes and how fluid moves in their brains.
Florida State University's Michael Delp is leading the experiment. He says thirty days in space for mice is similar to three years for humans. Sometimes the vision problem lasts long after spaceflight. Delp says the study may help explain why female astronauts do not experience the problem.
Also on the space station are protein crystals that may provide information about Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's is a chronic brain and nervous system disease that affects people's movement. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a partner in the experiment. Fox is an actor who suffers from the disease.
SpaceX is one of NASA's two main shippers for station supplies. Orbital ATK is the other. The company is set to transport supplies to the station in November from the state of Virginia. The two companies took over transporting cargo after NASA retired the space shuttles.
The Space X Dragon is the only supply ship that can return cargo to Earth. Its reusable rocket landed back at Cape Canaveral shortly after sending the Dragon into space.
"The crew stands ready to rock the science like a boss," Fischer said, talking about the research supplies from the Dragon.
He said it is enough for more than 250 experiments in the coming months. The three astronauts along with Italian crewmember Paolo Nespoli will carry out the research.
"Need to get back to work. We've got a Dragon to unload," Fischer told Mission Control.
The other current ISS crewmembers are Georgian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin Russian cosmonaut Sergei Nikolaevich.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English with information from the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
capsule – n. a small pressurized vehicle for space flight
cargo – n. something that is carried from one place to another by boat, airplane, etc.
vision – n. the ability to see : sight or eyesight
rock – v. to be very enjoyable, pleasing, or effective
boss – adj. great or excellent