Dragon Mission to Carry CASIS-Sponsored Experiments to Space Station

Dragon spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., March 21, 2018 (CASIS PR) The 14th Commercial Resupply Services (awarded by NASA) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by SpaceX is targeted for launch no earlier than 4:30 p.m. EDT on April 2.

A Dragon cargo spacecraft previously flown on SpaceX’s 8th commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA will now include 20 separate payloads sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory (managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space).

These payloads represent a diverse combination of science, technology, and the validation of new facilities that will contribute to greater research capacity in the future. Additionally, multiple investigations will launch to station focused on inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Below are highlights of sponsored ISS National Lab investigations that are part of the SpaceX CRS-14 mission.

ABI-Barley Germination
Budweiser (Ft. Collins, CO)
Gary Hanning, Ph.D.

This investigation from Budweiser is continuation research that seeks to evaluate the germination of barley seeds and growth of barley seedlings grown in a microgravity environment. Morphological and genetic effects of the microgravity environment on samples will be assessed in orbit and upon return. A better understanding of barley’s response to microgravity could help investigators adapt the grain for use in long-duration spaceflight.
Hardware Partner: Space Tango

Comparative Real-time Metabolic Activity Tracking
490 BioTech (Knoxville, TN)
Dan Close

The failure rate of new drug candidates upon reaching the preclinical or clinical trial testing phases is greater than 50%. This is an expensive burden for both drug companies and consumers that delays therapies from reaching patients. 490 BioTech will use the microgravity environment on the ISS National Lab to test a novel bioluminescent assay tool kit that may significantly reduce the failure rate of drug discovery efforts. Microgravity promotes superior 3D cell culture growth, enabling drug evaluations that may better mimic the cellular response of human tissues. This investigation will specifically examine anti-cancer therapeutics with downstream applications to other drugs. Economic models suggest that a 10% improvement in failure prediction rates prior to conducting clinical trials could save $100 million in development costs per candidate drug.
Hardware Partner: Bioserve Space Technologies

Genes in Space – 5
Genes in Space Education Program (in partnership with MiniPCR and The Boeing Company)
Elizabeth Reizis (NY) and Sophia Chen (WA)

The Genes in Space student research competition, founded by Boeing and miniPCR and supported by CASIS, invites students to propose pioneering DNA amplification experiments that utilize the unique environment of the ISS. Two experiments were selected as winners from the 2017 competition, both flying on this mission. Elizabeth Reizis, age 14, from Stuyvesant High School in New York will examine the effects of microgravity on the differentiation of immune system cells. Sophia Chen, age 14, from Lakeside School in Washington aims to measure cancer-inducing genomic instability in astronauts. Spaceflight causes many changes to the human body, including a weakened immune system and alterations in DNA. Findings from these experiments could lead to a better understanding of how to safeguard astronaut health in space.
Hardware Partner: MiniPCR

Effects of Microgravity on Controlled Release of Antibiotics and Curing Mechanism of a Novel Wound Dressing
Tympanogen (Norfolk, VA)
Elaine Horn-Ranney, Ph.D.

Combat wounds are commonly associated with sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of wound infection. Sepsis is currently one the most expensive conditions treated in the United States, with patient costs totaling more than $15 billion per year. To reduce the occurrence and severity of sepsis in soldiers, Tympanogen seeks to improve the process of antibiotic release from a novel patch to treat combat wounds. This novel patch, which can be applied directly to a wound site, contains a hydrogel with inherent antimicrobial properties that can promote healing of the wound while acting as a scaffold for regenerating tissue. Reduced fluid motion in microgravity will allow for more precise studies of this hydrogel behavior and its controlled release from the patch.
Hardware Partner: NanoRacks LLC

Higher Orbits Go For Launch!
Higher Orbits (Dulles, VA)
Michelle Lucas

This educational project with students from Morehead (KY), which is part of the Higher Orbits Go For Launch! program, will examine the effectiveness of lactobacillus probiotics in the space environment. The yeast Candida albicans is responsible for a variety of systemic and superficial infections in people with weakened immune systems. This study aims to develop a more complete understanding of the process by which lactobacillus is able to limit Candida growth.
Hardware Partner: Space Tango

Magnitude.io
Magnitude.io (San Jose, CA)
Ted Tagami

This educational project from Magnitude.io allows students to study how different growth phases of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana are affected by the microgravity environment. This experiment is specifically aimed at investigating plant germination and early growth stages.
Hardware Partner: Space Tango

MISSE Flight Facility
Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance (Houston, TX)

The Materials International Space Station Experiments Flight Facility (MISSE-FF), developed by Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, will provide a permanent commercially available materials science and component testing platform on the ISS. The MISSE-FF platform provides the ability to test samples such as materials, coatings, and components in the harsh environment of space. MISSE-FF enables the integrated testing of how materials react when exposed to extreme conditions in low Earth orbit, including ultraviolet radiation, atomic oxygen, ionizing radiation, ultrahigh vacuum, charged particles, thermal cycles, electromagnetic radiation, and micro-meteoroids.
Hardware Partner: Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance

Multi-use Variable-g Platform
Techshot (Greenville, IN)

The Multi-use Variable-gravity Platform (MVP), developed by Techshot, will provide a permanent, commercially operated facility onboard the ISS capable of producing artificial gravity in space. The MVP includes two internal carousels, each able to host six separate experiment modules, that can simultaneously produce up to 2g of artificial gravity. The facility can accommodate a wide variety of sample types, including fruit flies, flatworms, plants, fish, cultured cells, and protein crystals.
Hardware Partner: Techshot

NanoRacks Microscopes
NanoRacks LLC (Houston, TX)
Carl Carruthers, Ph.D.

The NanoRacks Microscopes facility includes commercial off-the-shelf optical and reflective microscopes. NanoRacks Microscopes utilize plug-and-play USB technology and allow crew members to analyze and digitally transfer images of ISS on-orbit samples.
Hardware Partner: NanoRacks LLC

NanoRacks-NDC-Beta-Amyloid Peptide
Calumet College of St. Joseph (Whiting, IN)
Sandra Chimon-Rogers, Ph.D

Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible neurodegenerative process, is characterized by formation of neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein and plaques, or clumps of amyloid beta peptide, that kill brain cells. Research suggests that an intermediate stage in fibril formation is ten times more toxic and may play a greater role in cell death and development of Alzheimer’s disease. This investigation will examine fibril formation and beta amyloid peptides in microgravity using a fluorescence spectrometer. Results could lead to ways to slow down the rate at which Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain or to eliminate toxic effects of beta amyloid peptide.
Hardware Partner: NanoRacks LLC

Nanoracks-Remove Debris
Surrey Space Centre (in partnership with University of Surrey)
Guglielmo Aglietti, Ph.D.

The amount of space debris orbiting the Earth is a growing problem. Collisions of orbiting space debris can create even more debris, which could damage the satellites and other spacecraft. This project from NanoRacks and the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre will use the RemoveDEBRIS satellite platform to deploy two CubeSats as artificial debris targets to demonstrate four technologies for debris removal (net capture, harpoon capture, vision-based navigation, and dragsail de-orbitation).
Hardware Partner: NanoRacks LLC

NanoRacks-Valley Christian – Effect of BAM-FX Nutrient Solution on Plant Growth in Microgravity
Quest Institute and Valley Christian High School (San Jose, CA)

This payload from the Quest institute includes four independent experiments. The first will examine the effect of microgravity on plant growth properties using the Bio-Available Mineral Formula-X nutrient solution. The second experiment will observe seed germination and tolerance after exposure to an electric field in microgravity. The third and fourth experiments will assess the behavior of heat and humidity in microgravity based on different heating and cooling methods.
Hardware Partner: NanoRacks LLC

National Design Challenge-Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America – Pathways to Adventure Council (Chicago, IL)

The National Design Challenge is a series of student engagement challenges in which young explorers compete for the opportunity to send experiments to the ISS National Lab. This winning experiment from the Chicagoland Boys Scouts and Explorers is focused on the use of an infrared spectrometer to investigate beta-amyloid peptide, a key contributor towards the proliferation of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

Neutron Crystallographic Studies of Human Acetylcholinesterase for the Design of Accelerated Reactivators – 2
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN)
Andrey Kovalevsky, Ph.D.

Oak Ridge National Lab, in partnership with the University of Tennessee-Battelle, is sending a second experiment to the ISS National Lab aimed at producing high-quality crystals of the medically important enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Crystals grown in microgravity are often larger and more ordered than those grown on the ground. This investigation seeks to utilize the microgravity environment on the ISS to produce crystals large enough for neutron diffraction analysis. Such analysis could provide essential insights into the enzyme’s structure, how it functions in the human body, and how it might be bound by nerve agents to no longer function. Findings from this investigation could lead to the development of novel therapeutics that may decrease morbidity and mortality rates from exposure to chemical agents that affect acetylcholinesterase, such as overexposure to pesticides (both in humans and livestock) or exposure from potential chemical warfare attacks.
Hardware Partner: Bionetics Corporation

Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology Materials
Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)

This payload, from the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, seeks to measure the time dilation effect (the idea that time moves more slowly for a moving clock than for one standing still) predicted by Einstein’s theories. To do this, the investigation will examine the performance of a clock designed with nanosecond precision. A secondary payload will examine the mutation rate of isolated plasmid DNA over an extended period of time on the ISS. The DNA sample will be sequenced before and after going to space, and the number of mutations in the flight sample will be compared with the number of mutations in a ground control.
Hardware Partner: NanoRacks LLC

Space Tango Fan Module
Space Tango (Lexington, KY)
Twyman Clements

This investigation seeks to demonstrate the ability of Space Tango’s Fan Module to direct air coming into the facility toward specific internal elements to keep them cooler. Successful demonstration of the Space Tango Fan Module would increase the number and types of investigations able to be carried out onboard the space station.
Hardware Partner: Space Tango

Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest-Wisconsin Space Crystal Mission
University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)
Ilia Guzei, Ph.D.

The winning students from the 2017 Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition will grow crystals onboard the ISS National Lab to test their optimized conditions for Earth-based crystallization against microgravity-based crystallization. The students adapted their Earth-based crystallization methods to prepare a flight project and will compare the crystals grown in microgravity with crystals grown on the ground.
Hardware Partner: Bionetics Corporation

To learn more about these investigations and other station research, visit www.iss-casis.org.

About CASIS: The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is the non-profit organization selected to manage the ISS National Laboratory with a focus on enabling a new era of space research to improve life on Earth. In this innovative role, CASIS promotes and brokers a diverse range of research in life sciences, physical sciences, remote sensing, technology development, and education.

Since 2011, the ISS National Lab portfolio has included hundreds of novel research projects spanning multiple scientific disciplines, all with the intention of benefitting life on Earth. Working together with NASA, CASIS aims to advance the nation’s leadership in commercial space, pursue groundbreaking science not possible on Earth, and leverage the space station to inspire the next generation.

About the ISS National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low Earth orbit, and varied environments of space.