'Flying brain' blasts off on cargo ship toward space station
TAMPA - AFP
A ball-shaped artificial intelligence robot nicknamed the "flying brain" because it is trained to follow and interact with a German astronaut, blasted off June 30 toward the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon cargo ship.
A new, spare hand for the station's robotic arm, an experiment to measure plant stress in space and a study of a new cancer treatment were also on board as the Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:42 am.
"We have ignition and liftoff! The Falcon 9 rocket powers the Dragon spacecraft toward the International Space Station," said a NASA commentator as the white rocket fired its engines and lit up the skies on a dark, Florida morning.
The unmanned Dragon capsule carried 2,700 kilograms on its 15th supply mission to the orbiting lab, as part of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. Both the capsule and the rocket have flown before. The Dragon sent cargo to space in 2016 and the Falcon blasted off a NASA satellite two months ago.
The California-based aerospace company headed by Elon Musk is intent on re-using rocket parts and spacecraft to save money and lower the cost of spaceflight.
About 10 minutes into the flight, SpaceX confirmed that the Dragon has successfully deployed from the rocket's second stage and was in a "good orbit."
It should arrive at the station on July 2.