The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket waiting to fly off into space, with the latest supply shipment to the International Space Station (ISS) in tow, will have to wait another day before it can fire up its engines and soar to the sky.
As the Inquisitr recently reported, the Falcon 9 and its Dragon payload were supposed to take to space today, with liftoff scheduled for 1:38 p.m. EST. However, the mission has been pushed back until tomorrow, NASA announced in a brief communique.
The reason for the delay has to do with a problem discovered in one of the science experiments slated to go up into space aboard the Dragon cargo capsule. Known as Rodent Research-8 (RR-8), the experiment aims to unravel the mechanisms behind aging -- and age-related diseases -- by shipping off mice of various ages to the ISS. They will then keep them under observation, in a microgravity environment, for close to two months.
"Spaceflight has been shown to induce several physiological changes in humans and rodent models that resemble accelerated aging," NASA explains in the study's description.
"This investigation provides a better understanding of aging-related immune, bone, and muscle disease processes, which may lead to new therapies for use in space and on Earth."While onboard the orbital outpost, the mice will be very well looked after by the astronaut crew. However, it seems that NASA has run into a snag with the food supplies destined for the furry creatures.
As technicians were loading the experiment's paraphernalia into the Dragon capsule, they discovered that the mouse food had grown mold while in storage. In order to have enough time to replace the moldy mouse treats, the space agency had decided to postpone the rocket launch. After all, no one wants to see the little rodents go hungry in outer space.
The next opportunity to fly the Dragon into space is tomorrow afternoon, which is why the Falcon 9 launch has been rescheduled for 1:16 p.m. on December 5.The rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force in Florida, and will deliver the Dragon capsule into orbit. Once there, the cargo ship will take two days to reach the ISS, NASA stated in a blog post.
The Dragon is packing more than 5,600 pounds of scientific science gear and vital supplies for the astronauts aboard the orbital research facility. The goods are being delivered as part of SpaceX's 16th resupply mission to the space station, or CRS-16.
"The Dragon spacecraft will be filled with supplies and payloads including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 57 and 58," NASA detailed on its website.
Once the capsule reaches the ISS, Expedition 57 commander Alexander Gerst and flight engineer Serena Aunon-Chancellor — of the European Space Agency and NASA, respectively — will use the station's Canadarm2 to grapple the Dragon, installing it to the Harmony module.