The residents of the International Space Station recently celebrated Thanksgiving in their own unique way, but they’re right back to work this week. Today, the high-flying scientists are preparing to receive a new shipment of supplies and science experiments from Earth, and you can watch SpaceX launch all those goodies live right here.
The launch is scheduled to take place at 12:51 p.m. EST, with a SpaceX Falcon 9 firing up from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. The Dragon cargo spacecraft being used for the launch has actually flown twice before, but the Falcon 9 booster is brand new.
The Dragon cargo ship will be carrying a whole host of scientific experiments, but one of them will be particularly interesting to beer lovers. The experiment will observe how barley, a key ingredient in beloved brews, reacts to microgravity. On board the ISS, astronauts will be malting barley that was grown in space, detecting even the slightest changes in the resulting malt when compared to barley that was malted on Earth.
No, this isn’t a step toward a space brewery, but it might result in barley being used as food in future space missions. NASA explains:
Barley contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Malting converts starches from the raw grain into various sugars suitable for use in brewing, distilling and food production. Understanding how barley responds to microgravity could identify ways to adapt it for nutritional use on long-duration spaceflights. Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity tests an automated malting procedure and compares malt produced in space and on the ground for genetic and structural changes.
Other gear, including new hardware that will allow leak-detecting robots to make their home on the outside of the space station, and an experiment using mice to detect muscle changes that are caused by microgravity, will also be making their way to the ISS today.
As is often the case, SpaceX will provide a live stream and commentary regarding the launch, and the stream should go live shortly before the scheduled launch window.