SpaceX will attempt to send more science to the International Space Station on Wednesday for the CRS-16 mission, launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Watch Inverse science editor Yasmin Tayag and video producer Justin Dodd host the live stream of this, the 20th SpaceX launch of 2018, part of a mission to send cargo to the ISS, some 220 miles above Earth.
The Falcon 9 has previously launched and landed. On, February 19, 2017 (654 days ago if you’re keeping score at home), the same rocket took off from Florida and landed back at LZ-1, where it is scheduled to return today. That first mission was also one that went to the ISS, the CRS-10 mission. Here’s an animated GIF of that landing on LZ-1 (Landing Zone 1):
The cargo capsule has also been to the ISS before, on that same February 2017 mission. When it returned a month later, it looked like this:
Here’s what NASA says is inside the Dragon cargo capsule, which weighs in at 5,600 pounds:
The Dragon spacecraft will be filled with supplies and payloads including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 57 and 58.
In addition to bringing research to station, the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk is carrying the Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM3) and the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI). RRM3 demonstrates the storage and transfer of cryogenic fluid, which is critical for propulsion and life support systems in space. While the Robotic Refueling Mission Phase 2 (RRM2) demonstrated tasks leading up to coolant replenishment, the actual transfer of cryogenic fluid in orbit is carried out for the first time with RRM3 using liquid methane. GEDI provides high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests and topography required to advance the understanding of important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat. Mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module’s Exposed Facility, GEDI provides the first high-resolution observations of forest vertical structure at a global scale.
Here’s a NASA video that goes deep on the science onboard: