CASIS Launches New Investigations to International Space Station

Dragon CRS-5 spacecraft berthed at International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Dragon CRS-5 spacecraft berthed at International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) – The most recent series of payloads sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) were successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Dragon capsule. CASIS is tasked with managing and promoting research onboard the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

Research onboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule includes a range of experiments sponsored by CASIS from the life sciences and education fields. Below is an overview of the major payloads sponsored by CASIS:

Flatform Regeneration
Dr. Mahendra Jain, Kentucky Space

Dr. Mahendra Jain, principal investigator for Kentucky Space, has proposed an experiment to study regeneration in planarians, which are flatworms capable of rebuilding body organs and nervous systems after damage. In partnership with Dr. Michael Levin of Tufts University, Dr. Jain will examine the effects of the space environment on these enhanced healing abilities. Gravity, and the lack thereof, influences the way cells behave and their ability to rebuild tissue. Studying planarians in space may reveal new aspects of how cells rebuild tissue, which could lead to breakthroughs in medical treatments for humans. For example, regenerative medicine has the potential to treat conditions like Parkinson’s, heart disease, or lost limbs.

T-Cell Activation in Aging
Dr. Millie Hughes-Fulford, San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, NCIRE

Recently it has been discovered that there is altered miRNA expression in spaceflight and Dr. Hughes-Fulford and team hypothesize that altered miRNAs expression may provide new pharmaceutical targets for treatment of immune disease. Their goal is to elucidate the molecular basis of suppression of T-cell activation in microgravity, including identification of regulatory miRNA expression (with gene targets) which cause immunosuppression in astronauts and the elderly. This is a project also funded by both the National Institutes of Health and NASA.

Additionally, CASIS is a national sponsor of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program and is directly responsible for funding nine of the student payloads. Many of these payloads were originally lost on the Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket, which suffered an anomaly during launch in October.

“Congratulations to our launch partner, SpaceX, on a successful launch to the ISS,” said CASIS Director of Operations and Education Ken Shields. “The research sent to the station today outlines the role and responsibility of CASIS to send impactful research capable of benefitting life on Earth, as well as providing access to student researchers and fostering a new era of scientists and engineers.”

For additional information on the research sent to the ISS National Laboratory on the SpaceX Dragon capsule, please visit this video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_y7w-vhLng&feature=youtu.be

To learn more about CASIS and its role in managing the ISS National Laboratory, visit www.iss-casis.org