SpaceX successfully launched its 12th Commercial Resupply mission (CRS-12) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and delivered 6,400 pounds of important scientific cargo to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The CRS-12 also served as fresh snacks delivery for the astronauts so NASA included a sweet treat as gratitude for all their hard work: a freezer full of fresh Blue Bell ice cream and Snickers ice cream bars. NASA also included a birthday cake flavored ice cream, presumably for U.S. astronaut Randolph Bresnik, who will be celebrating his 50th birthday on Sept. 11.
In The Dragon's Belly
Astronauts Jack Fischer and Paolo Nespoli successfully captured the Dragon capsule using a robotic arm and berthed it onto the station's Harmony module. After a successful capture, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen radioed from mission control to congratulate the two.
"Nice work. Congratulations on a job well done. You guys have just won yourselves some fresh food," Mogensen said.
However, the ice cream is just an extra treat because Spacex's Dragon capsule was actually filled with work-related equipment and materials, as well as 20 mice which, thankfully, did not manage to get into the freezer of ice cream.
The mice will actually be a part of an experiment on the long-term effects of weightlessness. The proponents are specifically looking into the effects of long-term stay in space on vascular, skeletal, ocular, and central nervous systems.
The astronauts also received a Parkinson's disease inducing protein to see how it would develop bigger crystals in microgravity for better observations.
Still, the two projects above are just the tip of the iceberg because the astronauts are actually scheduled to work on 250 Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications projects.
The ISS astronauts have only about a month to finish up all the ice cream in the Dragon's freezer because they have to use the same freezer to store experiments that will be sent back down to Earth. The freezer space may even be needed earlier since the astronauts are hyped about the next batch of experiments.
"The crew stands ready to rock the science like a boss!" Fischer said.
Fresh Fruits For Astronauts
According to Vickie Kloeris, manager of NASA's Space Food Systems Laboratory, the ISS astronauts didn't really request for fresh food for the CRS-12, only coffee and condiments, so the space agency added some apples and avocadoes since it is a "fresh-food kit."
"We were like, this is crazy. We're not going to send a fresh-food kit without putting something fresh in there," Kloeris said.
It only goes to show that not even astronauts can escape a balanced meal.
CRS-12 is the last resupply mission of SpaceX for NASA under the original contract and, since all missions have been successful, there is already a follow-up contract between SpaceX and NASA for resupply missions beginning 2019 through 2024.