More than 7,400 pounds of groceries rocketed toward the International Space Station today, Nov. 12, part of an eclectic cargo shipment that also included E. coli, science experiments, and a kit to figure out if beans can convert atmospheric nitrogen into soil nitrogen under a low-gravity environment.
The Orbital ATK’s Antares 230 took off from Wallops Island, Virginia, with a 139-foot Cygnus cargo container attached, and is expected to reach the orbiting space station in about 46 hours, or on Tuesday. Once the cargo-hold is emptied, astronauts will fill the container with tons of space station trash—which will burn as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere several weeks from now.
Among the items to be delivered to the station are a three-dimensional virtual reality camera from National Geographic for taking footage for a documentary on daily life aboard the station. Astronauts conduct science experiments and send the data back to Earth; one test includes determining how two strains of E. Coli bacteria react to antibiotics in an environment with weak gravity. The six-person crew will also test a new laser-based communication system.
“Also aboard the Cygnus cargo ship are some care packages from the astronauts’ family members,” according to a NASA release. “The crew will also receive a special ‘cool box’ filled with fresh fruits and vegetables — a rare treat for the crew, considering they mostly eat prepackaged and freeze-dried packets of special space food and occasional batches of lettuce grown in space.”