When the SpaceX-3 cargo resupply mission launched to the International Space Station April 18, two experiments designed by researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville were among the cargo headed to space.
One experiment, Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC), will focus on the growth and development of seedlings in microgravity. Seedlings will be preserved with a chemical fixative and returned to the ground for post-flight evaluation.
The other experiment, Molecular Biology of Plant Development in the Space Flight Environment (Characterizing Arabidopsis Root Attractions (CARA)), investigates the growth and development of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings in microgravity environment, focusing on how a root knows which direction to grow in when gravity is absent. Plants are harvested in orbit, preserved with a chemical preservative and returned to the ground for post-flight evaluation.
SpaceX-3 is NASA's third contracted resupply mission to the space station by U.S. company SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif. SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft launched atop the company's Falcon rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:25 p.m. EDT.
SpaceX developed its Dragon capsule, the only cargo spacecraft currently servicing the space station with the capability to return cargo back to Earth, with NASA and now successfully has completed three missions to the orbiting outpost. Expedition 39 crew members captured the SpaceX-3 Dragon using the station's robotic arm at 7:14 a.m. Sunday, April 20. The capsule is scheduled to remain attached to the station until May 18. It then will return to Earth and splash down in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast California. It will return samples from scientific investigations currently underway aboard the space station.
The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has had continuous human occupation since November 2000. In that time it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.
For more information about the SpaceX-3 mission and the International Space Station, visit: