The Swan spacecraft carried about 3.4 tons of “space express” to the International Space Station on its 13th Space Express mission (NG-13). At 15:21 EST on February 15, the “Swan” cargo ship was carrying about 7,500 pounds (3.4 tons) of supplies and experimental equipment aboard The Antares 230, Northrop Grumman, USA. The rocket was launched from the Wallops flight base in Virginia, USA.
This is Northrop Grumman’s 13th cargo flight to the International Space Station. The Swan spacecraft is expected to arrive at the International Space Station at 4:05 a.m. on February 18. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan will then use the station’s robotic arm to capture the spacecraft. NASA says the Swan spacecraft will stay on the International Space Station until May. When it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it will dispose of thousands of pounds of garbage.
The 3.4-ton “Space Express” has 2,129 pounds (about 966 kg) of scientific experimental hardware and samples, including the first microscanning electron microscope. The microscope, called Mochii, will provide a preliminary demonstration of live imaging, micro and nanostructure measurements on the space station.
These devices and samples will complete a series of space experiments, including tissue and cell culture, studying bone loss in microgravity environments, and so on. Astronauts experience bone loss in space due to a lack of gravity to act on their bones. Using space experiments, researchers will reveal the molecular mechanisms that cause bone loss by studying bone cells responsible for the formation of new bones and bone-breaking cells that are responsible for bone decomposition absorption.
Studies will also be conducted on the effects of microgravity and radiation on phages. Phage is a virus that attacks bacteria and must be parasitic in a living bacterium, and researchers need to understand the interaction between bacteria and the host, including phage specificity to the bacterial host and host resistance to specific phages. A better understanding of the effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation on phages and hosts, or a major development in phage technology, could ultimately help protect astronauts’ health in future space missions, NASA said.
In addition to the experimental equipment and samples, NASA prepared 1,570 pounds of food, clothing and personal items for the astronauts, including two varieties of cheese and fresh fruit. “It’s always a delicious treat. Ven Feng, manager of NASA’s International Space Station Transportation Integration Office, joked, “It’s usually a game to see who gets that small bag of fresh fruit and vegetables.” “
The 13th cargo resupply of the Swan is just over three months away from the 12th mission (NG-12) in early November. At 4:10 a.m. local time on 4 November 2019, the “Swan” spacecraft carrying 3.7 tons of supplies arrived on time and docked to the International Space Station, including tools dedicated to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a special oven and dough. The 13th Space Express is also the second simultaneous flight of two “Swan” spacecraft, as the last “Swan” spacecraft left the space station on January 31st and remains in orbit.