WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — A space cookie oven launched with rodents to space today (Nov. 2) aboard the most powerful Antares rocket ever built.
At 9:59 a.m. EDT (1359 GMT) this morning, the Cygnus NG-12 spacecraft successfully launched to the International Space Station from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch carried about 8,200 lbs. (3,700 kilograms) of scientific experiments, hardware and supplies to the space station, where it will arrive on Monday (Nov. 4) to be grappled by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir who will be supported by fellow astronaut Christina Koch.
With nearly perfect weather, including brilliant blue skies and comfortably crisp air, the launch went off without a hitch. “This never gets trivial … the people that I work with day in and day out are all excited and look forward to this every time we get to do this,” Kirk Shireman, the deputy manager of the space station, said during a pre-launch press conference. This was the first launch as part of the second phase of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) flights. NASA awarded the contract for this second phase in 2016.
Aboard the Cygnus spacecraft is both equipment to support and sustain existing experiments on the space station as well as new investigations that will be introduced to the six astronauts currently on station.
Of the new investigations headed to space, there are a few that have particularly caught the public’s attention.
One of these experiments will bring the smell of fresh-baked cookies to the space station. A joint collaboration between Zero G Kitchen and NanoRacks has developed and built the first-ever oven designed to work in the microgravity environment on the space station. The astronauts on the station will conduct the first experiment with the oven by baking chocolate chip cookies. While food on the space station now is primarily reheated or heated with the addition of hot water, this will be the first instance of baking in space.
Another investigation, Microgravity as a Disruptor Of The 12-hour Circatidal Clock (Rodent Research-14) will use rodent models to study how phases of light and dark can affect liver health.