JAXA, PeptiDream Sign Agreement for ISS High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth

A non-standard cyclic peptide bound to a target protein. (Creidt: JAXA)
A non-standard cyclic peptide
bound to a target protein. (Creidt: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA/Peptidream PR) — PeptiDream Inc. (PeptiDream), a public biopharmaceutical company, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), a national research and development agency, signed an outsourcing agreement (hereafter “this Agreement”) on the comprehensive implementation of the High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) experiment on the Japanese Experimental Module (“Kibo”) of the International Space Station.

1. Outline of This Agreement

JAXA offers comprehensive implementation of the PCG experiment, covering from technical consultation on protein production to crystallization experiments in space for the drug target proteins provided by PeptiDream. Unlike conventional agreements made on individual experiments, this Agreement allows for swift and flexible collaboration, so as to keep up with the research progress made by PeptiDream.

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JAXA, UN to Cooperate on CubeSat Deployment From ISS

At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these three-unit (3U) CubeSats are similar in design to IceCube. (Credit: NASA)
At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these three-unit (3U) CubeSats are similar in design to IceCube. (Credit: NASA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) agreed to cooperate in providing opportunities to deploy cube satellites (CubeSats) from the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” of the International Space Station (ISS).

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JAXA Space Aging Experiment Begins on Kibo

Ground photo of the cartridge containing nematode worms. (Credit: JAXA)
Ground photo of the cartridge containing nematode worms. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO, May 22, 2015 (JAXA PR) — JAXA’s life science experiment “Study of the effects of space flight on the aging of C. elegans* (Space Aging)” has started on the Japanese Experiment Module, “Kibo.”

*Principal Investigator: Yoko Honda, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology

Space Aging experiment aims to elucidate how microgravity affects creatures’ aging process. The experiment measures the longevity of the nematode worms (C. elegans) in space and analyzes the change of the gene expression.

The result of this experiment will clarify the senescence rate and the effects on the longevity of the worms which stay long-term in space. If a gene that controls the aging process is found, it may become a clue to the development of a new genomic drug that slows the aging or prevents age-associated diseases.

  • Launch: On April 15, 2015, the cartridge containing two types of nematode worms was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, U.S. aboard the SpaceX CRS-6 and delivered to Kibo.
  • Start of the experiment: On April 19, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly set the cartridge into the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF).
  • Observation: By a successful telecommand sent from the User Operations Area (UOA) at the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC), the observation became available. The culture and observation will last for about two months.

Planetary Resources to Launch First Spacecraft on Monday

Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources will launch its first satellite aboard the Cygnus spacecraft on Monday. Here is the company’s previous press release announcing the launch.

The A3 is the Arkyd 100’s technology demonstrator, and the mission will provide for early testing and serve to validate the spacecraft’s core technology and software in the development of the program.

Planetary Resources is under contract with NanoRacks, through its Space Act Agreement with NASA, to release the A3 from the International Space Station’s Kibo airlock.

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Altius Proposes System to Launch CubeSats From Cygnus Supply Ships

Satellite deployed from Cygnus cargo module using Hatchbasket. (Credit: Altius Space Machines)
Satellite deployed from Cygnus cargo module using Hatchbasket. (Credit: Altius Space Machines)

Space News reports on an innovative proposal by Altius Space Machines to use Cygnus cargo ships to launch CubeSats into higher orbits:

Altius engineers have designed the new payload carrier, called HatchBasket, to fit in the hatchway of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s enhanced Cygnus cargo module and take advantage of fuel remaining in the unmanned cargo ship to boost the capsule to an altitude of approximately 500 kilometers where HatchBasket would expel its complement of satellites.

Satellites launched at that altitude are likely to remain in orbit without onboard propulsion systems for two to three years. In comparison, the anticipated lifespan for cubesats released from the space station, which travels at an altitude of roughly 350 kilometers from Earth, is six to 12 months, said Jonathan Goff, president and chief executive of Louisville, Colorado-based Altius.

It is not yet clear how many satellites HatchBasket would carry, because Altius and NASA officials are continuing to discuss how large the payload carrier should be, said William Bolton, vice president for marketing and sales.

A preliminary version of HatchBasket exhibited at Utah State University’s annual Small Satellite conference in August was large enough to hold 40 three-unit cubesats, which are roughly the size of a loaf of bread and weigh 3 to 4 kilograms, as well as two much larger satellites around 180 kilograms. Now it appears more likely that HatchBasket will hold one or two 50-kilogram satellites in addition to a number of cubesats that has not yet been determined, Bolton said.

Altius is working on the project with NanoRacks, which launches CubeSats from the Japanese Kibo module.

Pharmaceutical Companies Participation in High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth Experiment on Kibo

JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata works on the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata works on the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will begin the first experiment of the second series for the High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth Experiment (PCG)*1 using the environment on the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” of the International Space Station (ISS). Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Interprotein Corporation will participate in the experiment.

Other than those companies, 18 academic organizations including universities will also join the experiment (as shown in List 1 below).

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JAXA, Yakult Honsha to Study Probiotics on ISS

KIBO_Japanese_Experiment_Module_exterior
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. (President: Takashige Negishi; hereinafter referred to as “Yakult”) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (President: Naoki Okumura; hereinafter referred to as “JAXA”) today announced that the two parties reached an agreement to start a joint research in the International Space Station (hereinafter referred to as “ISS”) from April 2014.

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JAXA to Deploy Small Sats From Kibo Module on ISS

JAXA PR — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans the demonstration of small satellites deployment from the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” of the International Space Station (ISS) in order to enhance the capability of Kibo’s utilization and to offer more launch oppotunities to small satellites.

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Japan Seeks to Commercialize Space Program as ISS Effort Fizzles

Space News reports that that Japanese government wants to commercialize the nation’s space program even as another report shows outlines its dismal record in convincing business to use the Kibo module on the International Space Station:

The Japanese government wants to promote more private-sector space development by reorienting its spending away from its research focus and toward commercially oriented programs and crafting a new law to permit commercial launch services, Japanese government and industry officials said Sept. 28.

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Japanese Study Looks at Improving the Quality of Life in Space

My friend Misuzu Onuki was in town over the weekend for the NewSpace 2010 conference. She’s doing some very interesting work in a sometimes overlooked area of space travel that will likely become increasingly important as more people venture out into the cosmos.

The JAXA-funded Quality of Life in Space project is looking at the essential elements that can make all the difference between a good stay in space and a bad one. How comfortable are the accommodations? What amusements exist? How good is the food? What does a traveler smell? Are amenities offered?

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Discovery Docks at Station, Astronauts Prepare for Spacewalk

Image above: STS-124 Commander Mark Kelly works inside the Quest airlock with Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov. Photo credit: NASA TV

NASA MISSION UPDATE

Mission specialists Mike Fossum and Ron Garan are scheduled to kick off STS-124’s first spacewalk at 11:32 a.m. EDT. During the 6-½ hour excursion, the pair will retrieve a shuttle inspection tool, service and inspect components of a solar alpha rotary joint and prepare the largest component of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory for installation on the International Space Station.

The spacewalkers’ first task is to transfer the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) from the station’s truss to space shuttle Discovery. The OBSS, which attaches to the shuttle’s robotic arm for detailed inspection of the shuttle’s heat shield, was left at the station for STS-124 during the previous shuttle mission to provide room for the giant Kibo module in Discovery’s payload bay.

Next, the spacewalkers will prepare Kibo’s Japanese Pressurized Module (JPM) for installation. After inspecting the common berthing mechanism on the Harmony Node’s left side and opening a window cover, Fossum and Garan will work together in the shuttle’s cargo bay to remove contamination covers from the JPM’s docking surfaces. Fossum will also disconnect heater cables and remove locking bolts from the shutters of the JPM’s forward window.

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Logistical Challenges Ahead for International Space Station

Over at Flight Global, Rob Coppinger looks at the logistical challenges that lie ahead for the International Space Station over the next several years as the facility grows and the space shuttle is retired.

The challenges include completing construction of the Japanese Kibo module, expanding the station’s crew size to six, and keeping the facility supplied with a combination of American, Russian, European and Japanese cargo freighters.

Japan Becomes More Assertive as ISS Role, Expectations Grow

With the first part of its Kibo module delivered to the International Space Station, Japanese space officials are becoming more assertive as they face growing expectations to make good on their 20-year-old commitment to the orbiting laboratory, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

“Though Japan is the last of the participating nations to have a facility attached to the ISS, the country is now a full-fledged member of the spacefaring community, and no longer needs to feel shy about pushing its own agenda vis-a-vis the United States, Russia, the European Union and other member nations,” staff writers Koichi Yasuda and Makoto Mitsui report.

They have an interesting account of a disagreement that occurred between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as Takao Doi and his colleagues were connecting the module to ISS during the recent Endeavour flight.

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