SpaceX has launched its Dragon cargo craft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This is the company’s 15th resupply mission to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

The cargo craft is carrying more than 5,900lb of research equipment, cargo and supplies for multiple investigations aboard the space station.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will use the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Dragon when it arrives at the station.

Cellular biology investigation Micro-12 is among the research materials aboard the cargo craft.

The Micro-12 will help researchers to understand the effect of microgravity on growth, gene expression, and the ability of a model bacterium to transfer electrons through its cell membrane along the bacterial nanowires it produces. Such bacteria are useful in making electricity from waste organic material by incorporating it in microbial fuel cells.

“The cargo craft is carrying more than 5,900lb of research equipment, cargo and supplies for multiple investigations aboard the space station.”

An Earth science instrument, called ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will help to understand how plants respond to changes in water availability.

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The data gathered by the instrument will be useful for better management of agricultural water.

The Dragon cargo flight is scheduled to leave the station this August and return to Earth with more than 3,800lb of research, hardware and crew supplies.

The cargo will also carry a spare Canadian-built Latching End Effector (LEE). Each end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm comes with an identical LEE, which can not only be used as the ‘hands’ to capture payloads and cargo spaceships, but also enable Canadarm2 to ‘walk’ to different locations on the orbiting outpost.