SpaceX’s Ship That Sent Lasers into Space Is Coming Back

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SpaceX’s CRS-29 mission from the International Space Station (ISS) departed from the orbiting space laboratory yesterday evening as it flew over South America. The mission docked at the ISS in early October and carried a variety of payloads including science and research experiments. The CRS-29 mission was one of the most important in NASA’s demonstration because it brought important experiments such as laser communication and imaging equipment to Earth on the ISS. Its liftoff in November marks SpaceX’s 80th mission in 2023, with the ascent leg carrying 6,500 pounds of cargo. After separating from the ISS at 5:05 pm Eastern time, the Cargo Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth in less than 20 hours by dispersing the cost in Florida.

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon Departs Space Station After Initial Delay

The Cargo Dragon for the CRS-29 mission will return with 4,300 pounds of cargo after it has flown into space with equipment that will allow NASA to develop a two-way laser communication system and monitor atmospheric waves. . The return of the Dragon completed research experiments as well as other things.

NASA continues to run scientific experiments for its own scientists and other researchers on the ISS. The station’s unique micro gravity environment enables scientists and researchers to see if materials behave differently on the ISS compared to how they would on Earth. Some research that goes to Earth includes the study of plant genetics and the effect of microgravity on cells. Another experiment back at CRS 29 measured telomeres in space. These are structures at the end of a DNA strand, and while they shorten with age, previous studies have shown they expand in space.

After its launch, the Cargo Dragon spacecraft will have completed its second commercial supply service mission for NASA. It previously flew the CRS-26 mission in November 2022, with this year’s launch marking a one-year turnaround for this particular Dragon spacecraft.

The optical assembly for NASA’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) at the Space Dynamics Laboratory, a nonprofit government contractor owned by Utah State University. Image: NASA

NASA SpaceX’s next cargo mission is CRS 30, and it is currently expected to fly into the sky in March next year. SpaceX has introduced several upgrades to the Dragon spacecraft over the years, and its latest batch is under the so-called Dragon 2 spacecraft. All Dragon missions, whether Crew or Cargo, are now flown on Dragon 2, and the CRS 29 mission is the ninth flight of the upgraded spaceship.

Two important science experiments heading to the CRS 29 station are the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) and ILLUMA-T. AWE is an imaging science study that observes the upper regions of the atmosphere where waves exist. Researchers believe that these waves will allow them to study the Earth’s climate in better ways than is possible on the surface.

ILLUMA-T uses a laser communications relay located on a geostationary satellite and another terminal, which is sent to the ISS. This terminal aims to demonstrate laser-based communications for future missions, and NASA completed the first laser link to the satellite and the corresponding ground systems on December 5. Courtesy of minimal interference in space, the system can transfer data from the space station to the satellite at a speed of 1.2 Gbps, beating most broadband internet systems available on Earth.

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