The New York Times has a story about a crystal growth experiment led by Lawrence J. DeLucas of the University of Alabama at Birmingham that will fly to the space station aboard a Dragon cargo vehicle later this month:
Today, he is a principal investigator on a $6 million project that is to fly aboard the International Space Station. The experiment will include 100 proteins with poor results on earth so far. The same crystal-growing experiment will be conducted on the ground at the same time under the same conditions (plus gravity).
After four and a half months, the space crystals will return to earth. The analysis will then be conducted double-blind, meaning that the scientists analyzing the crystals will not know which ones were grown on earth and which in orbit.
The 100 proteins are set to travel to the space station in March aboard a rocket run by SpaceX, a private company, and return to earth in August. The analysis will then take a year.
At the end, Dr. DeLucas said scientists will have a good idea of how useful zero-G is for this type of research. “What I hope is,” he said, “once and for all, we can say, ‘Look, if you fly a protein, here’s the percent chance that it’s going to get improvement.’ ”
Read the full story.