The private spaceship Cygnus of Northrop Grumman was launched into space by a two-stage Antares rocket on Saturday from the Wallops spaceport in Virginia, USA.
According to NASA’s space office, the four-ton cargo includes various devices, including radiation detectors and new computer system components. Furthermore, a new system designed to recycle the urine of astronauts for drinking water or the shipment of 120,000 nematodes, specifically nematodes, on which scientists will study the loss of muscle mass in a state of weightlessness.
These laboratory worms, about a millimeter long, traveled into orbit precisely because, like humans, they have muscles.
A name in honor of an African American mathematician
The Cygnus is this time named SS Katherine Johnson, in honor of a black mathematician who played a significant role in NASA’s space program. Johnson died last year at the age of 101, and her fate inspired the filmmaker to make Hidden Numbers (2016).
“We chose Mrs. Johnson because of her manual calculations that helped get the first Americans into space, and also because of how successfully she, as a black woman, was able to ‘break through one glass ceiling after another,'” Frank DeMauro, Northrop Grumman vice president, said.
This week, ISS residents also replenished supplies thanks to the Russian cargo ship Progress MS-16, which docked at the station on Wednesday. She brought urgently needed oxygen, which escapes from the station through leaks, but also fuel, drinking water, food and clothing.
Cygnus has now brought astronauts more supplies of fresh food, including tomatoes, nuts, parmesan, smoked salmon and caramel.
The ISS crew, which orbits at an altitude of about 400 kilometers above the Earth, now consists of two Russians, four Americans and one Japanese.
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