…and land the rocket and reuse the stage, it will be a game changer for the company, potentially reducing the cost of launches by tens of millions of dollars and creating what investors and executives believe will be disruptive access to orbit.

What funny things are in the cargo for ISS?

There’s a tiny espresso machine, designed by Lavazza and Italy’s space agency, so the astronauts can do better than instant coffee. Sadly, the delivery was delayed by the failure of an Orbital Sciences re-supply mission last fall, and the Italian astronaut who inspired the espresso mission will only have a few weeks to enjoy the machine before her scheduled return to earth in early May.

There are also thousands of pounds of food and other supplies for the astronauts, plus scientific experiments to study the affect of space living on the bodies of humans and rodents—particularly US astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently began his year on the station to study—and a project that will attempt to test synthetic muscle for robots.

Are Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos fighting over the patent on this technology?

Methods, man.
Methods, man.
Image: US Patent Office

Of course!

Is this important for SpaceX?

You bet—this mission has been delayed several times, most recently out of what SpaceX executives characterized as an abundance of caution when facing fuel storage issues in its vehicle. A successful launch is a must as the company spars with ULA, which is unveiling its own next generation rocket today. Both are pursuing launch business from telecom companies and governments. Landing the first stage of the rocket would be a veritable coup.

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