SpaceX Dragon capsule arrives at space station with ants, avocados, robot onboard

SpaceX has launched another Falcon 9 rocket into orbit carrying a Dragon cargo capsule on a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:14 a.m.  Just under eight minutes after launch, the Falcon's first stage returned to earth, landing on a brand new drone ship, "A Shortfall of Gravitas," positioned in the Atlantic Ocean,  It marked the 90th successful landing of an orbital class rocket. 

The Dragon capsule arrived at the space station on Monday at 10:30 EST.

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The Dragon carried more than 4,800 pounds (2,170 kilograms) of supplies and experiments, and fresh food including avocados, lemons, and even ice cream for the space station’s seven astronauts.

The Girl Scouts sent up ants, brine shrimp and plants as test subjects, while University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists are flying up seeds from mouse-ear cress, a small flowering weed used in genetic research. Samples of concrete, solar cells and other materials also will be subjected to weightlessness.

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A Japanese start-up company’s experimental robotic arm, meanwhile, will attempt to screw items together in its orbital debut and perform other mundane chores normally done by astronauts. The first tests will be done inside the space station. Future models of Gitai Inc.’s robot will venture out into the vacuum of space to practice satellite and other repair jobs, said chief technology officer Toyotaka Kozuki. 

As early as 2025, a squad of these arms could help build lunar bases and mine the moon for precious resources, he added.  

SpaceX had to leave some experiments behind because of delays resulting from COVID-19.

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This is SpaceX's 23rd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

When the launch happens, you can watch it LIVE on the FOX 35 YouTube channel or in the FOX 35 News app.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.