SpaceX has reused one of their Falcon9 rockets in record time. The booster that was used in Friday mornings launch was last used in April when it launched the planet-hunting Tess satellite. The Dragon capsule was last used in 2016. While the rocket was not recovered for future use (SpaceX is upgrading their rockets) the Dragon capsule may yet bring more supplies into space.
For this particular mission the cargo is as interesting as the quick turn around for the rocket, if not more so.
Beautiful morning launch- @SpaceX CRS-15 “Dragon” is now on its way to the @ISS along with a crew of 20 mousetronauts and a cargo of supplies, science, and a new “hand” for the stations robotic arm. @ISS_Research @csa_asc https://t.co/ozfI9JtzIQ
— Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) June 29, 2018
They decided to give the Canadarm 2 a hand, a new spare hand that is, in case one of its current ones should need replacing soon. The Canadarm 2 has two “hands” also known as Latching End Effectors (LEEs) which periodically need replacing.
In the rest of the shipment were 20 “mousetronauts” or mice for tests on the station, food and other supplies, including some highly caffeinated coffee known as Death Wish Coffee for a coffee lover on board.
And then there was this;
Big day for our #spacecompanion. On 29 June 2018 @DLR_de´s intelligent astronaut assistant will be sent to the #ISS on board @SpaceX 15 from @NASAKennedy. @IBM developed #AI features and its personality, @AirbusSpace built #CIMON itself and its operating system. pic.twitter.com/iMAfEY41jZ
— IBM Deutschland (@IBMDeutschland) June 28, 2018
Cimon (pronounced Simon) is the first orbiting robot with artificial intelligence. Cimon or Crew Interactive Mobile Companion has an AI brain created by IBM and is intended to act as a companion and aid to German astronaut Alexander Gerst and assist him with science experiments aboard the station.
Cimon is 3D printed and will continually be updated by IBM through the cloud and can remain indefinitely in the orbiting lab.
Image from SpaceX on Twitter