Photo: Oleg_Yakovlev/Shutterstock

SpaceX Launches ‘Mighty Mice,’ Beer Malt, and Empathetic Robot Into Space

News Astronomy
by Eben Diskin Dec 6, 2019

On Thursday morning, SpaceX launched a Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral, carrying a Dragon capsule containing a variety of goodies for six astronauts currently in the International Space Station. The three-ton shipment includes “mighty mice” for a mice muscle study, a robot that’s sensitive to astronauts’ emotions, a mini version of Anheuser-Busch’s malt house, and holiday treats for the astronauts.

The shipment of mice totals 40, including eight with twice the muscle mass of regular mice. It might sound like a creature from your nightmares, but these mice will actually assist in the study of muscle and bone buildup, which could eventually help astronauts stay fit on long journeys.

The capsule will also include a plastic 3D-printed robot head equipped with an artificial intelligence named Cimon. This robot is designed to show empathy toward its six human colleagues on the space station.

As for the malt house, it’s the third in a series of Budweiser experiments to examine how barley germination is affected by weightlessness. The barley grains aboard the Dragon capsule will be used for a beer-malting experiment, and if we had to guess, this is likely the most anticipated cargo among astronauts.

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