On Monday, SpaceX is poised to end a 40-day launch drought in the United States with a cargo run to the International Space Station. The commercial space outfit will fire off its 12th resupply service mission for NASA from Kennedy Space Center using a fresh Falcon 9 rocket. On top, a Dragon capsule with over 6,400 pounds of supplies—a typical haul could include a variety of toilet paper (the Russians prefer a rougher texture while the Americans opt for a softer touch), fresh socks, and most importantly, tortillas. Mexican food has been a staple in low-Earth orbit since the 80s, so regular reups of Picante sauce are a must.
Last week, SpaceX performed a hold-down test fire of the CRS-12 Falcon 9 rocket and is targeting a 12:31 pm Eastern liftoff on Monday. Minutes after the booster delivers SpaceX's Dragon to a preliminary orbit, it will attempt a return flight for touchdown at Landing Zone 1 on Florida's space coast.Along with the groceries, ISS cargo drops have included hardware like an espresso machine, a handy 3-D printer, and even a relatively huge inflatable module currently being accessed and tested by the crew. In addition to the essentials, Dragon will be carrying enough resources to aid in over 250 research projects. This includes a NASA-funded experiment to study cosmic rays dubbed CREAM (for Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass), mice to study the effects of long-duration spaceflight on vision and joints, and seeds to continue growing plants in microgravity. The agency also partnered with Hewlett Packard to send up a supercomputer to determine if off-the-shelf computer hardware can properly operate in space.