During the replenishment missions for the astronauts of the International Space Station ISS, all sorts of unusual things were in their luggage. Two years ago there was an oven so that the crew could bake a few cookies in space. A wickedly expensive suction toilet has also already been delivered.
This time too, the private freighter “Cygnus”, which left for the ISS on Saturday afternoon (local time), has three and a half tons of supplies on board that are not usually located on a space station: The y are worms.
The animals are intended for special experiments.
The astronauts should investigate how the worm muscles develop in weightlessness. Nasa hopes that this will provide new insights into the effects of long-term missions on the health of their crews.
On board the unmanned capsule, which took off from a launch base on Wallops Island on the American east coast, there is also enough food for the seven astronauts currently living on the ISS, as well as technical equipment for space walks and other experiments.
The freighter, built by the American aerospace company Northrop Grumman, took off at the tip of a 43-meter-high “Antares” rocket, as video recordings from the US space agency Nasa showed.
The Cygnus is scheduled to dock with the ISS at the beginning of next week.
As soon as the crew has brought the cargo onto the ISS, they will fill the “Cygnus” with the waste from the past few weeks.
The garbage will later burn up together with the capsule when it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere.
Incidentally, it is not the first time that worms have lived on the ISS. In 2014, a mission delivered earthworms and goldfish to the human outpost.
The animals were observed for a Russian-Japanese experiment that also looked at muscle wasting and bone loss in weightlessness. In addition, the researchers should find out how closed ecosystems change in space. Spiders and fruit flies also lived on the ISS.