The SpaceX-3 resupply mission launched to the International Space Station on April 18. Astronaut Steve Swanson sent the image above of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule being grappled by Canadarm2, a robotic arm on the space station.
Included in the cargo was an experiment designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) package will test the potential for using a laser to transmit data to Earth from space. Instead of being broadcast on radio waves, data is packaged onto beams of laser light and pointed to a receiver on the ground. Beaming information packages with lasers can greatly increase the amount of information transmitted compared to radio.
SpaceX-3 was NASA’s third contracted resupply mission to the space station by U.S. company SpaceX of Hawthorne, California. The Dragon capsule launched atop the company’s Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.