'Space harpoon' to capture orbiting junk heads to ISS

Claims US government hiding alien life after SpaceX live feed cuts

The Dragon has also been tasked with bringing cargo back to Earth when it leaves the space station in May, The Verge noted. SpaceX has launched 14 cargo missions to the station and partner Orbital ATK has launched seven.

"What's really great about it is that it's becoming the norm", Jessica Jensen said. On Monday, the SpaceX Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with a delivery of experiments dealing with how the human body, plants and materials behave in space.

SpaceX does not plan to attempt a full recovery of the Falcon 9. SpaceX's first satellites are expected to come online next year.

The cargo ship will arrive at the space station on Wednesday morning.

As the spacecraft approaches the ISS, Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the spacecraft and tug it to the Harmony module, NASA officials said in a statement.

Scientists say it will showcase technologies that could be used to clean up an estimated 7,600 tonnes of junk orbiting the Earth, ranging from old spacecraft to flecks of paint. Expedition 55/56 crewmembers will therefore have about a month to unload and repack the Dragon before its scheduled departure.

The capsule was loaded with almost 2,600 kg of food and scientific equipment, including a study project to research the storms on Earth. The Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS) arriving on Dragon uses a newly developed passive nutrient delivery system and the Veggie plant growth facility now aboard the space station to cultivate leafy greens. There's also the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) which helps researchers better understand and observe thunderstorms and upper-atmospheric lightning from the ISS. It will carry supplies to NASA's International Space Station, located 250 miles above Earth. The system, developed by the U.K.'s University of Surrey Space Center (SSC) and co-funded by the European Commission, will be assembled by ISS astronauts before being deployed for a few tests to see how well it captures miniature satellites and pulls them out of orbit.

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