In the pre-dawn hours of this morning, SpaceX launched its 15th International Space Station resupply mission. The mission, known as CRS-15, is notable for more reasons than one, but it’s particularly exciting because both the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have been used in previous launches. The Dragon capsule is taking more than 5,900 pounds of research, hardware, and equipment to the ISS, with some interesting items on board.
One piece of hardware that’s heading up to the ISS today is the Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN (CIMON), a free-floating machine outfitted with Waston AI from IBM. We heard about CIMON earlier in the year, and today NASA said that it will be used to gain insights into how useful AI can be during long-term space missions.
CIMON is joined in the Dragon spacecraft by plenty of other experiments and equipment. One such experiment is the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), which sounds particularly cool. It’ll be able to measure the temperature of the vegetation on Earth, and can be used to learn how plants deal with changes in water availability.
Today’s launch (which you can see in the video above) seems to have gone off without a hitch, but the mission isn’t over yet. The Dragon spacecraft won’t dock with the ISS until the morning of Monday, July 2. The ISS is currently set to capture the Dragon at 7 AM Eastern time, and NASA will begin live coverage of the rendezvous beginning at 5:30 AM over on its website.
Once it’s docked, the Dragon will spend one month at the International Space Station. It’ll be loaded up with more than 3,800 pounds of research, hardware, and supplies for its August 2 return trip to Earth. We’ll keep you posted as more information on the mission is released, so keep it here at SlashGear for more.