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NASA just sent 7,400 pounds of groceries, E. coli, and a 3D camera into space

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.”


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