SpaceX is scheduled to launch its 19th cargo mission for NASA on Thursday, with a host of scientific research and cargo bound for astronauts on board the International Space Station.
The company is launching its "Cargo Dragon" capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket for the mission, called CRS-19. The capsule has nearly 3 tons of supplies on board, as well as several research and technology payloads destined for the space station.
The capsule flying for CRS-19 was reused twice before, having flown the CRS-4 and CRS-11 missions in 2014 and 2017, respectively. This is the second time SpaceX has flown one of its Cargo Dragon capsules on three separate missions.
Aboard Cargo Dragon are a wide variety of payloads and scientific experiments. Notable among them is an experiment NASA calls "Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity." The test, led by Budweiser parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev will test the malting process (which turns raw grain into malt to be used in brewing and food production process) in the microgravity of space. Beyond brewing beer in space, Anheuser-Busch and NASA hope to understand how to better use the barley malt in making food such as bread.
SpaceX also plans to land the Falcon 9 booster, the largest part of the rocket, after the launch on the company's autonomous boat in the Atlantic Ocean. A few minutes after launch, the booster will separate from the rest of the rocket and turn around, returning to Earth.
Cargo Dragon is expected to spend about three days traveling to the International Space Station and is scheduled to dock on Saturday.