SpaceX is launching a group of genetically enhanced ‘mighty mice’ into space this week, with the plan to link the shuttle – and the mice – up with the International Space Station.
Delayed by a day due to rough winds, the SpaceX Dragon capsule will sit atop a Falcon 9 rocket, and is set to blast off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:30 pm Thursday. It will reach the ISS by Sunday if all goes well.
Why is Elon Musk Sending Genetically Modified Mice into Space?
Elon Musk has been in the news a lot lately, but mostly for his work with Telsa and the questionable design of his Cybertruck, a new electric truck that has been criticized as looking like something rendered by the original PlayStation.
But Musk has his fingers in many pies, and one of them is SpaceX. This rocket launch is in conjunction with work being done by a nonprofit lab, Jackson Laboratory, located in Maine.
These mice, known to the crew as the ‘Mighty Mice’, have been genetically altered to enhance their muscle growth. The goal for the scientists on the ISS and back on the ground is to help learn more about, and prevent, bone and muscle loss in space.
This is vitally important as space flight becomes more commonplace. Musk himself has spoken in the past of commercial flights, colonizing planets, and more. Understanding how to keep humans healthy while outside of Earth is a very important step.
What Else is Aboard the Dragon?
The SpaceX Dragon isn’t just carrying Mighty Mice, no matter how adorable that mental image is. (Do you think they have little space suits?) It also contains about 5,700 pounds of supplies and research equipment for the team aboard the ISS.
SpaceX has a contract with the US government worth billions of dollars that allows them to resupply the ISS, and so far it’s going well for Musk and his team. Only one accident has happened, when a SpaceX Falcon exploded in 2015.
Contracts with SpaceX are good through 2024, and it’s expected by that time SpaceX will be ready to put actual people aboard the rockets and shoot them into space.
This will be SpaceX’s 19th cargo mission so far.