Early on June 29, SpaceX launched its 15th cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA, sending up nearly 6,000 pounds of supplies on top of its Falcon 9 rocket. This is the last mission of the Falcon 9 Block 4, the older version of the rocket that will be phased out soon.
Artificial Intelligence In Space
The ISS crew will use the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (CIMON) to study how artificial intelligence can augment tasks in the space habitat. They will assess how intelligent robots like CIMON can simplify work and lessen the stress of astronauts, especially on long-term spaceflights.
"For us, this is a piece of the future of human spaceflight. I mean, if you go out to the moon or to Mars, you cannot take all the mankind and engineers with you. But with an artificial intelligence, you have instantly all the knowledge of mankind," said Dr. Christian Karrasch, DLR project lead of CIMON.
All the information that is gathered using artificial intelligence is uploaded to the cloud, which scientists can use to enhance systems from Earth.
SpaceX CRS-15 Mission: What's On Board?
SpaceX's CRS-15 resupply mission also carries science projects that investigate the plant water in space, the effects of microgravity in the culture of microorganisms in the gut, and cancer therapy.
Scientists are also looking to improve the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular conditions using endothelial cells in microgravity.
"Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the leading causes of death in developed countries. If the hypothesis is validated, study results may enable Angiex's drug to be designed for lower toxicity, creating an important model system for testing of any vascular drug," NASA reported.
Another experiment is the formation of chemical gardens, which include metal salt solutions with silicates, carbonates, and some types of anions. When these particles interact, they form intricate shapes that demonstrate the concept of self-organization.
By doing this experiment, researchers can better understand the physics behind the structure and evolution of these chemical gardens.
Oliver Steinbock from Florida State University said one of the main goals of simulating chemical gardens in space is to develop a new type of engineering. He added that these structures could help explain similar formations on the ocean floor, where life possibly originated.
Falcon 9 carries the Latching End Effector, which allows astronauts to grapple payloads, capture vehicles, connect to different points on the space station, as well as establish power, data, and video connections.