An unmanned capsule dubbed Dragon is scheduled to launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station this Friday, and it's carrying some weird stuff:
- Robonaut 2 (yes, a robotic astronaut) will get its legs on Sunday morning if weather at the launch site holds off. The legs span nine feet, have seven joints each, and could assume much of the high-risk maintenance outside the space station. Initial testing begins in June.
- NASA's new laser, OPALS (Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science), could aid future deep-space missions, beaming data back to Earth at up to 50 megabits per second.
- Science cheerleaders, composed of space-minded NFL and NBA cheerleaders, swabbed 48 microbes worth of historical landmarks back home to see how they behave in microgravity.
- NASA is in its fifth iteration of PhoneSat, a cubesat—the little guy's satellite—made from off-the-shelf smartphone parts. Developed to see how cheap electronics perform in a space vacuum, PhoneSat 2.5 does not make calls.
- And space veggies. The miniature space farm grows “Outredgeous” lettuce seedlings.