The Dragon CRS-2 capsule is scheduled to remain berthed to the station until March 25.
The lengthy stay is paced in part by science experiments included in a 2,700-lb. cargo delivery that will make the return journey as well.
Those investigations examine the root health of thale cress plants grown under varying oxygen levels and the solidification of lead- and tin-based liquids. In the absence of gravity, the investigations could unmask processes that reveal how plants respond to flooding and point to improved processes for producing materials from molten metals.
Over the berthing period, Dragon will be reloaded with just more than 3,000 lb. of research gear and equipment in need of refurbishment as well as protective packaging. SpaceX vessels will be positioned in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, Calif., to await the Dragon’s parachute descent for recovery.