SpaceX’s Dragon supply ship arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday, delivering super muscular "mighty mice", worms and a smart, empathetic robot. The cargo packaging included some Christmas presents for the station's six-member crew.
The reusable Dragon, launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was captured by the space station's huge robotic arm. It's SpaceX's 19th delivery to the space station for NASA over the past seven years. The astronauts have another delivery coming Monday this one launched by Russia from Kazakhstan on Friday.
The two spacecraft soared 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the South Pacific at the time of capture that took place three days after its launch from from Cape Canaveral.
"Whenever we welcome a new vehicle on board, we take on board also a little bit of the soul of everybody that contributed to the project, so welcome on board," station commander, Italy's Luca Parmitano told Mission Control.
The capsule holds 3 tons (2,720 kilograms) of supplies, including 40 mice for a muscle and bone experiment. Eight of them are genetically engineered with twice the normal muscle mass and so are considered "mighty mice".
There also are 120,000 roundworms, or nematodes of a beneficial variety that are part of an agricultural study.
The capsule also has a large, round robot head with artificial intelligence and the ability to sense astronauts' emotions. Named Cimon, it's an improved version of what flew up last year to be tested as an astronaut's helper.