07 Apr 2016

SpaceX Prepares to Launch Tomorrow and Bring the Next Level of Science to the ISS

Tomorrow, April 8th, SpaceX will send a Dragon capsule, carried by a Falcon 9 rocket, with 4,400 pounds of supplies plus materials for over 250 new or ongoing science experiments to the International Space Station.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)

According to a recent article on Inverse.com, the highlight of the current ISS projects is an expandable habitat that will undergo a two year test. An expandable habitat could make long-term space travel and building shelters on other worlds easier and sustainable.

 Growing Vegetables and Medicine in Space

Another major project involves growing food in space. Veg-03 will bring 18 new crops to the ISS, including romaine lettuces and Chinese cabbages, to continue experiments in space-age farming.

Astronauts on the long missions that are being planned in the near future will not be able to carry drugs and antibiotics, they will need to grow them, and fungi are the best known possibility. On the ISS, the project Micro-10 focuses on how zero-gravity and microgravity affect metabolism in Aspergillus nidulans, a fungus heavily used in the study of multicellular organisms.

Big Innovations in Small Places

Other huge frontiers of study on the ISS are tiny – Kasthuri Venkateswaran will seek to monitor microbes and the ISS microbiome. Eli Lilly is using 20 mice to study muscle atrophy due to space habitation, to understand the effects zero-gravity and microgravity have on the musculoskeletal system. And the Genes in Space program will test a mini-PCR, polymerase chain reaction, to amplify a small segment of DNA so that we can study the building blocks of life.

“This is a launch that we’ve been waiting for for quite some time because it’s really important to our overall ISS research program,” Julie Robinson, chief scientist for the ISS program.

Information taken from the Inverse article “Next Week’s SpaceX Launch Will Bring So Much Cool Science to the ISS