Merck, Procter & Gamble Among Private-Sector Partners Launching Research to the ISS on SpaceX CRS-24

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., December 13, 2021 (CASIS PR) – SpaceX’s upcoming 24th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will include more than 15 payloads sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS). These payloads include multiple investigations from private-sector entities, including two supported by highly recognizable companies: Merck and Procter & Gamble.

In the 10 years of CASIS management, more than half of ISS National Lab-sponsored payloads delivered to the space station have represented private-sector interests. Companies have utilized the ISS National Lab for research and development to produce new or enhanced products for consumers on Earth. Commercial entities have also conducted technology demonstrations of new hardware and facilities that further business models in low Earth orbit. Additionally, multiple companies have provided funding to support ISS National Lab-sponsored research that leverages the unique space-based environment to bring value to our nation and drive a robust market in low Earth orbit.

Over the years, pharmaceutical leader Merck has launched multiple protein crystallization investigations to the space station. In a recent ISS National Lab-sponsored investigation focused on Merck’s cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda®, the Merck team achieved exciting results. Leveraging microgravity conditions, Merck was able to produce highly uniform, concentrated crystalline suspensions of the active ingredient in Keytruda®. Merck successfully translated these findings to drug development processes back on the ground, allowing the company to further develop a potential drug formulation and delivery of Keytruda®. Merck’s latest crystallization experiment builds on their previous ISS National Lab-sponsored research, and results could lead to additional improvements in the manufacture and storage of Keytruda®, which could both reduce costs and improve quality of life for patients on Earth.

Also on SpaceX CRS-24, Procter & Gamble—one of the leading consumer goods companies in the world—will send Tide Infinity, the first in a series of detergent systems being developed for NASA’s long duration space travel initiatives (through a Space Act Agreement with NASA) to understand the viability of cleaning clothes off planet.  The Tide team intends to test the stability of cleaning ingredients under microgravity conditions and radiation exposure in space. In doing so, the company hopes to gain insights that could help in the development of a low-resource-use laundry solution for everyday use while meeting consumer demand for more sustainable products. Results could also further knowledge on the development of laundry detergent solutions to support future long-duration spaceflight missions.

SpaceX CRS-24, contracted through NASA, is slated to take flight no earlier than December 21 at 5:06 a.m. ET from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A. In the coming days, additional press releases will provide more information on ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations launching on this mission. To learn more about all investigations on SpaceX CRS-24, please visit our launch page.

About the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory

The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under Cooperative Agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit www.ISSNationalLab.org.