A SpaceX capsule is rocketing to the International Space Station -- carrying a few tons of research, plus ice cream.
SpaceX launched its unmanned Falcon 9 rocket Monday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Experiments make up most of the 6,400 pounds of cargo, including 20 mice.
The Dragon -- due at the station Wednesday -- is also doubling as an ice cream truck this time. There was extra freezer space, so NASA packed little cups of vanilla, chocolate, ice cream candy bars and birthday cake ice cream for the station's crew of six. Those treats should be especially welcomed by U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has been in orbit since November.
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Some of the experiments are part of an effort to gain a better understading of Parkinson's disease. Those items include an experiment to grow large crystals of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), a protein believed to be the greatest genetic contributor to Parkinson's disease. Gravity keeps Earth-grown versions of this protein too small and too compact to study.
The experiment was developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Anatrace and Com-Pac International.
As usual on these cargo flights, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral.