SpaceX successfully launched a new airlock and more to the ISS on Sunday

After being forced to delay the launch previously, SpaceX was finally able to successfully launch its latest Dragon resupply mission on Sunday at 11:17 AM EST. The rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida via Launch Pad 39A. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to arrive at the ISS at about 1:30 PM Monday, December 7.

The arrival of the Cargo Dragon will mark the first autonomous docking for SpaceX, and the capsule will remain at the station for about a month. NASA will offer coverage of the arrival starting at 11:30 AM on NASA Television and via the NASA website. The launch marked the 21 contract resupply mission for SpaceX and the first flight for the second generation Cargo Dragon.

The capsule is delivering several scientific investigations to the space station. Among them are meteorite samples and microbes in an experiment for a process known as biomining. Another experiment has to do with examining changes in hearts using tissue chips. The Cardinal Heart experiment will study how gravity changes affect the heart at the cellular and tissue level using 3D-engineered heart tissues.

The third experiment is called HemoCue and will test the ability of commercially available devices to provide quick and accurate counts of total and differentiated white blood cells while in microgravity. SpaceX also delivered the SUBSA-BRAINS experiment that examines the differences in capillary blood flow, interface reactions, and bubble formation during the solidification of brazing alloys microgravity.

One of the more interesting items aboard the Dragon capsule is the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock. The airlock is a commercial platform able to support a range of scientific work on the space station that is roughly five times larger than the current airlock on the space station. The final experiment is a study to look at the effect of microgravity on human brain organoids, which are small living masses of cells that can interact and grow.