Planet Earth food deliveries arrive in passenger cars and trucks to the average American home, and there isn't usually too much concern about how many bags of food can fit in the vehicle. But getting groceries to the International Space Station (ISS) requires a much different approach to mass and volume and vehicle of choice.
There are several different types of space travel vehicles used to deliver food and more to the astronauts spending six months up on the International Space Station, like the Cygnus capsule from Virginia's Orbital Sciences Corp., the ATV from the European Space Agency, Russia's Progress vehicle and California's SpaceX (also known as the Dragon, according to American astronaut Steve Swanson, who is serving as the commander of Expedition 40). There is also Japan's HTV, but it is not expected to make food or other deliveries during Expedition 40's time off the planet.
Orbital Sciences Corp. launched the latest food, clothes and equipment shipment via their Cygnus capsule on Sunday to the six-man flight crew currently occupying ISS, according to Fox News on July 14. And that shipment, which consisted of 3,000 pounds of goods, is the third for the company thus far, and it included stink-free clothing and needed equipment.
Additional shipments will follow containing food, clothing and supplies as scheduled throughout the remainder of Expedition 40's time off the planet, unless there is another technical difficulty or launch weather issue, which prevented this particular shipment from being sent for several months.
Astronauts are dependent upon being able to get the supplies that they need while spending six months at a time at the space station, as this six-man is doing--and as the 200 or so other humans have done on the International Space Station since it became operational 13 years ago. So if shipments are delayed it could be catastrophic if they are delayed too long.
Fortunately, NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. were able to work together to make sure this grocery, clothing and equipment delivery make it into outer space on Sunday, so American Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman, along with their four other professional astronaut peers on the space station at this time, would all not run out of something to eat, something clean to wear and the tools they need in order to conduct the experiments they have been tasked with doing.
But it isn't all work for the Expedition 40 crew, as evidenced by Reid's Twitter post on July 13, as even astronauts enjoy watching the World Cup finals.