Today, at 12:42 PM EDT, SpaceX’s spacecraft, the SpaceX Dragon, had successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The craft was carrying over two tons of NASA cargo from the International Space Station, including important research on how life in space affects bone health and the aging process. The 3,100 lbs of cargo made it down to Earth safely, and will be unloaded from the SpaceX Dragon and received by NASA as soon as it makes its 155-mile trip to Long Beach, California. From there, the SpaceX Dragon will be taken home to SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas-based test facility.
Important NASA Data Was Quite Varied in Nature
Some data was on the aging of roundworms, which can be used as a model for larger organisms. Scientists can observe certain physiological changes in the worms that are a result of space life, which may affect aging rates.
Other data came from the Osteocytes and Mechanomechano (Osteo-4) transduction investigation.
The Osteocyte investigation gathered data about what happens to osteocytes, the most common cells in bone, under microgravity. This information is important for two reasons. First, it helps us better understand what happens to humans during long periods in space. Bone density in astronauts tends to decrease at a much higher rate than in people living on Earth. Scientists hope that the findings can be used to better prepare astronauts for the effects of future long-term missions, such as NASA’s Mars journey. Second, the data may also be useful to treating patients on Earth who are rendered immobile or inactive as a result of illness or old age.
Another set of data, along with equipment, came from the SpinSat, or Special Purpose Inexpensive Satellite. The SpinSat is a spherical satellite less than two feet in diameter, with new thrusters that allow it to move and position itself. One proposed future use for the SpinSat data is to get high-resolution atmospheric data from the thermosphere, one of the highest levels in our atmosphere. Scientists hope that this data will help design future generations of satellites and telecom technology.
SpaceX has had numerous successes lately, and is currently the only company that makes a high-capacity vessel for supply trips to the International Space Station.