Early this morning July 18, NASA and SpaceX successfully completed the launch of the Commercial Resupply Services-9 (CRS-9) mission from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. And, according to Engadget, there was a piece of very important cargo aboard: the first DNA sequencer to be sent to space.

For its Biomolecule Sequencer experiment, the space agency hopes to demonstrate that sequencing is possible in microgravity. If everything goes as planned, having the sequencer in space would save a lot of time, as the previous method meant that testing samples could take months, Engadget reports. In the past, astronauts would typically have to collect samples aboard the ISS and have them sent back to Earth for testing.

The sequencer sent to space is a "miniaturized" version of the device, able to perform several important tasks, and includes the ability to "identify microbes, diagnose diseases, monitor crew health and possibly help detect DNA-based life off the Earth," according to the NASA blog. 

The spacecraft and its cargo are expected to arrive at the ISS the morning of July 20, and will return to the Pacific Ocean on August 29.

[h/t Engadget]

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