SpaceX launches a rocket to refuel the International Space Station

Houston, TX

SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket into orbit Thursday night for an important mission on its 25th flight, known as CRS-25.

The rocket lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:44 p.m. EDT (0044 GMT) with a Dragon robotic resupply craft that will replenish the International Space Station (ISS).

CRS-25 will deliver more than 5,800 pounds (2,630 kilograms) of scientific equipment and day-to-day supplies to the ISS, which will support more than three dozen ongoing research investigations.

The ISS crew will also receive a much-appreciated delivery of fresh food.

“We are sending apples, oranges, cherry tomatoes, onions, baby carrots, garlic, tahini, cheese and dry sausages,” said Dana Weigel, ISS deputy program director. “So a very good mix of fresh fruit for the crew.”

The Dragon will spend the next 36 hours catching up with the ISS in orbit. The cargo capsule is scheduled to dock with the space station around 11:20 a.m. EDT (1520 GMT) on July 16.

One of the mission’s key experiments is the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source (EMIT) investigation. According to NASA, the device will be used to measure the mineral composition of dust in the driest regions of the planet.

EMIT will focus on how dust from some of Earth’s arid landscapes is carried by winds across the planet and how it affects the global climate system in ways scientists don’t yet fully understand.

Measuring the minerals in these samples will help researchers better understand their composition and role in global climate, such as weather forecasting, improving crop yields, and other climate research.

NASA currently has access to around 5,000 such measurements, a drop in the ocean of what is to come in the near future.

“They’re looking to increase our current set of measurements… up to nearly a billion measurements,” said Heidi Parris, associate scientist at NASA’s ISS.

EMIT “really has the potential to close the gap in our understanding of Earth’s climate patterns.”​​​​​​​

The CRS-25 mission is expected to last 33 days.

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