Of Space Mice and Beer Experiments – All About SpaceX’s Launch Today (Video)

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Don’t Worry, Astronauts… Help Is On Its Way… Err, Space Mice and Beer Experiments Anyway.

If Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” then there should now be no doubt about how much we love our astronauts. Among a couple of tons worth of cargo, SpaceX just sent up some seriously strong space mice and beer experiments. The launch went well, as did the rocket recovery. In fact, one could say SpaceX is getting seriously good at sending cargo to the ISS. 

The Cargo

The Dragon capsule is carrying over 5,700 lbs on this mission. Most of that payload consists of scientific equipment that will be used to carry out numerous experiments. Those experiments will center on subjects ranging from seed germination in space to muscle degradation in mice. In fact, that’s where the space mice and beer experiments come in. The mice, 40 of them to be exact, are ultra-strong because they don’t have a key protein, myostatin, that inhibits muscle growth. According to Se-Jin Lee, a professor at the Jackson Laboratory and University of Connecticut School of Medicine, “When we engineered the mice to lack myostatin, they grew to twice their normal size.” He then quipped that the team calls them “mighty mice.” The mice will serve as subjects to study the effects of muscle degradation in space.

As for the beer experiments—well, unfortunately, it’s not as fun as all that. Anheuser-Busch (the parent company of Budweiser) is sending up the fixin’s for beer, but not any actual beer itself. Specifically, they’re sending up barley seeds. Those seeds will germinate in space prior to the normal malting process used in making beer. 

Reusability Milestones

Of its fleet of Dragon capsules, this is the second one to make a third trip to the ISS. Each time SpaceX reuses a Dragon capsule or a Falcon rocket, they add more credence to their claims about bringing down costs. Recently Musk made some waves when NASA went public with details over Boeing’s pricing for commercial missions to the ISS. Per that report, each seat on a Boeing Starliner mission will cost roughly $10 million more than we’re currently paying Rosmocos to get our astronauts into orbit. More starkly, the $90 million price tag for a Boeing ticket is nearly twice what SpaceX projects its own costs to be. 

According to Musk, a big part of that price difference will come down to reusability. The Boeing craft flies atop an Atlas V rocket, which is a traditional “one-and-done” rocket system. By contrast, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are designed to be reusable multiple times before needing any kind of major overhaul. This reusability, per Musk’s statements, will result in dramatically lower costs for space missions.

Watch The Launch

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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