Experiments with worms and artificial retinas will ship to space Feb. 20 aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, according to a NASA announcement.
The cargo ship is scheduled to lift off no earlier than 12:36 p.m. EST (1736 GMT) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, if all goes to plan. Only a limited number of U.S. media may go on site due to quarantine protocols associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cygnus will launch to the International Space Station aboard an Antares rocket and arrive at the orbiting lab two days later, according to NASA.
Some of the research investigations on board Cygnus include an experiment to study muscle strength in worms, an experiment concerning how microgravity may assist with artificial retina production, and the SpaceBorne Computer-2 experiment from Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
SpaceBorne Computer-2 "aims to demonstrate that current Earth-based data processing of space station experimental data can be performed in orbit," NASA said in the same statement. In general, processing data in space may reduce the amount of data sent to the ground, freeing communications channels for other tasks.
Cargo ships also carry essential items for spaceflyers including fresh food, equipment replacements or other items the crews may need to live in space for months at a time. After a few months, the crew fills departing Cygnus cargo ships with trash, which will burn up when the spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere.
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When the last Cygnus spacecraft left the space station in January, it carried a high-speed 5G communications experiment along with the latest iteration in a series of science experiments investigating the behavior of fire in space, called Saffire-V. NASA plans to use these fire studies to improve astronaut safety on future missions, especially those in deep space.
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