SpaceX launches Nasa’s new cargo resupply mission to ISS


SpaceX has launched its 12th cargo resupply mission on behalf of Nasa to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, US.

During the mission, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried the Dragon cargo ship, which contained more than 6,400lb of research equipment, cargo and supplies.

After completing the launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 successfully landed back at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"The three-year mission is expected to address fundamental questions about the origins and histories of cosmic rays, as well as help better understand the basic structure of the universe."

In its pressurised area, the Dragon carried an experiment that will help grow large crystals of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), a protein believed to be the biggest genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease.

Developed by Michael J Fox Foundation, Anatrace and Com-Pac International, the experiment will also exploit the benefits of microgravity to grow larger LRRK2 crystals for analysis on Earth.

Dragon has also carried the Kestrel Eye (NanoRacks-KE IIM) investigation, which is a microsatellite carrying an optical imaging payload and a commercially available telescope.

Sponsored by the US National Laboratory, the investigation will test the concept of using microsatellites in low-Earth orbit to support critical operations such as the cost reduction of Earth imagery in time-sensitive situations such as tracking severe weather and detecting natural disasters.

Dragon also carried the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass instrument that will be attached to the Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility on the ISS, and measure the charges of cosmic rays.

The three-year mission is expected to address fundamental questions about the origins and histories of cosmic rays, as well as help better understand the basic structure of the universe.

Among other supplies, a super-computer manufactured by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was also sent to the ISS and is designed to guide astronauts on future deep-space missions.

Dragon is due to leave the ISS in September and will carry more than 3,300lb of science, hardware and crew supplies back to Earth.


Image: SpaceX launched its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station from Nasa's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of Nasa Television.