Ah, 2020. What a wonderful year to send a few people to the International Space Station to conduct major scientific research. I mean, every year is good for that but, it would be really great to get some good news for 2020.
NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and SpaceX will be sending four people to the International Space Station on October 31st, 2020. The crew consists of Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). These four astronauts will be launched into space in Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket. The crew has named the rocket “Resilience” to symbolize dedication and teamwork of everyone involved in the mission, and how when we all come together, there is a lot we can achieve. This is a strong message.
The trip will be a long one for the astronauts. They are expected to come back to Earth in the spring of 2021. During the trip, the four will be conducting major scientific research and maintenance. The research will be in areas such as botany, technology, and most importantly, cancer. These studies will be done by growing radishes, testing out a new space toilet, and they will be, as NASA states: “leveraging microgravity to test drugs based on mRNA for treating leukemia.”
If you’re wondering why they chose to grow radishes, NASA also says, “This model plant is nutritious, grows quickly, and is genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a plant frequently studied in microgravity.” That’s pretty cool. This’ll also help us see how well plants grow in space, and what their nutrition and taste is. I bet space radishes are pretty good. Let’s hope they don’t turn some nasty, alien green color and taste like pool water.
Aside from doing this research, the astronauts will get to see a range of unpiloted spacecraft such as the Northrop Grumman Cygnus, the next generation of SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft, and the Boeing CST-100 Starliner. The crew will also conduct a number of spacewalks, and they will even get to welcome crews of the Russian Soyuz vehicle and the next SpaceX Crew Dragon in 2021.
To finish this marvelous mission, Crew Dragon will undock with the astronauts on board, depart the space station and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. They will splashdown just off of Florida’s coast, and be picked up by a SpaceX recovery vessel at sea. They’ll then board a plane and fly to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
This’ll be fun, and benefit people all around the world. This research is so important that it lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon, and eventually Mars, starting with the agency’s Artemis program. That program will land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface in 2024.
Photo Credits: www.nasa.gov