SpaceX launched a newer, bigger version of its Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station on Sunday, marking the first time the company has two capsules in orbit at the same time, the AP reports. The Dragon—packed with Christmas treats and presents—should reach the space station on Monday, joining the Dragon that delivered four astronauts last month. "Dragons everywhere you look," said Kenny Todd, NASA's deputy space station program manager. With NASA's commercial crew program officially under way, SpaceX expects to always have at least one Dragon capsule at the space station. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off with the latest Dragon from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where coronavirus precautions kept staff to a minimum.
The first-stage booster—making its fourth flight—landed on an ocean platform minutes after the late-morning liftoff. It was first used in May for the first astronaut launch by Elon Musk's company. The 6,400-pound shipment includes billions of microbes and crushed asteroid samples for a biomining study, a new medical device to provide rapid blood test results in space, and a privately owned and operated chamber to move experiments as big as refrigerators outside the orbiting lab. Forty mice also are flying for bone and eye studies, two areas of weaknesses for astronauts during long space stays. For the astronauts' Christmas feast, the Dragon is carrying roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, shortbread cookies, and tubes of icing.
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