Spacex Launched Sperm, a Space Trash Catcher and More to the International Space Station

A SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday, bound for the International Space Station. The Dragon was filled with more than 5,800 pounds of research, cargo, supplies and equipment for astronauts aboard the ISS.

Along with general supplies like food, the Dragon craft held some extra special cargo. Sperm and bone marrow were just two of the hundreds of items that arrived at ISS on Wednesday.

The sperm was sent by NASA as part of a project called Micro-11 out of the Ames Research Center in California. The goal is to gain insight into how space flight and travel can affect human reproduction. Researchers aren't sure sperm will be able to function normally enough in a zero-gravity environment to fertilize an egg in space.

To test this, frozen samples of human and bull sperm were sent to the station and the plan is for the crew on board to thaw the samples before adding a chemical that can activate the sperm movement, which occurs before the space sperm can fuse with an egg. While in space, the sperm will be monitored via video before the samples are preserved and sent back to Earth where it will be determined whether or not the egg and sperm successfully fused, according to NASA.

Also in the Dragon shipment: a space trash remover called RemoveDEBRIS. While astronauts on board the station do research, a satellite outside of the station will be working to develop new methods to capture space trash.

Come the end of May or early June astronauts will likely launch the RemoveDEBRIS satellite from the ISS into space, Spaceflight Now reported. Once the satellite is a safe distance away from the ISS in space, it's set to deploy its own small satellites to act as fake space trash. The satellite will then use two techniques, net capture and harpoon capture, to catch the debris in space and cause it to deorbit and burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

The technique names are highly descriptive of how they work. Net capture uses a giant net to catch the debris and then de-orbit it. The harpoon won't actually be tested on a satellite—for legal reasons it's a bit more risky than the net capture—so instead, the harpoon will launch into a target that will extend from the RemoveDEBRIS craft.

All of this is set to be monitored with cameras and data transfers. A video shows how the satellite and its capture methods will likely function once in space.

In addition to the satellite and sperm, plenty of other exciting experiments and cargo arrived at the station Wednesday. The more than 2,000 pounds of science investigations that were sent up included a bone marrow experiment, the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor for surveying thunderstorms on Earth and the Veggie PONDS experiment for studying plant growth in space were all included in the payload.

Spacex Launched Sperm, a Space Trash Catcher and More to the International Space Station | Tech & Science