SpaceX 23rd resupply mission will carry bone and plants studies to ISS
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Aug 20, 2021
The 23rd SpaceX cargo resupply services mission carrying scientific research and technology demonstrations to the International Space Station is targeted to launch in late August from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Experiments aboard include an investigation into protecting bone health with botanical byproducts, testing a way to monitor crew eye health, demonstrating improved dexterity of robots, exposing construction materials to the harsh environment of space, mitigating stress in plants, and more.
Highlights of the payloads on this resupply mission include:
Building bone with byproducts
Protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve understanding of the physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women. Sourcing metabolites from materials that otherwise would become waste is an additional benefit.
Keeping an eye on eyes
Videos and images can be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. The investigation is sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Space Medicine and European Astronaut Centre (EAC).
"SANS is present in over two-thirds of astronauts and thought to be associated with long duration (30 days or longer) exposure to microgravity," said principal investigator Juergen Drescher of DLR.
"Currently, visual problems that may manifest from SANS are mitigated by providing glasses or contact lenses to crew members. Multi-year missions to Mars may worsen these symptoms, and there is a need for a mobile device for retinal image diagnostics. While developed for space, this mobile technology has potential to provide diagnostics in remote and extreme environments on Earth at reduced cost. Mobile biomedical diagnostic devices such as these will likely emerge as both an enabler of human deep space exploration and a sustainable model for health care on Earth."
Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards. The technology also has applications in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. The experiment will be conducted under the pressurized environment inside the Bishop Airlock, the space station's first commercial airlock.
"This technology demonstration is to show the world that the capabilities necessary for automation in space are finally available," said company chief technology officer Toyotaka Kozuki. "It provides an inexpensive and safer source of labor in space, opening the door to the true commercialization of space."
Putting materials to the test
Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete. Alpha Space provides the MISSE-FF lab that hosts these investigations.
"MISSE-15 includes tests of concrete, spacecraft materials, fiberglass composites, thin-film solar cells, radiation protection materials, a micro-optical chip, 3D printed polymers, and more," said MISSE project engineer Ian Karcher. "In addition, the availability of this platform for commercial technology development contributes to the ongoing commercialization of space and development of new space technologies."
Helping plants deal with stress
"On Earth, polyamines have been shown to contribute significantly to the mitigation of multiple environmental stresses in plants," said principal investigator Patrick Masson, a professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"Altering the metabolism of a polyamine to mitigate the stress of microgravity could have an impact on our ability to use plants as key components of bioregenerative life support systems on long-term space exploration missions. It also may improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that allow plants to respond to general environmental stress on Earth, with impacts on agriculture, horticulture, and forestry."
Easier drug delivery, Girl Scouts send science to space
"The ProXopS Faraday Research Facility, developed in partnership with L2 Solutions Inc., is designed to operate remotely and provide a controlled environment for power, command and control, telemetry responses, and safety assurance for microgravity experiments," said Chad Brinkley, president of ProXopS LLC and L2 Solution Inc. "An added benefit with the facility is that experiments return to the ground for evaluation."
Faraday-NICE tests an implantable, remote-controlled drug delivery system using sealed containers of saline solution as surrogate test subjects. The device could provide an alternative to bulky, cumbersome infusion pumps, a possible game changer for long-term management of chronic conditions on Earth.
Potential problems with such pumps include high infection risk, electromechanical failures, and double dosing. NICE is minimally invasive, implantable, has no moving mechanical components, and does not require catheters. Remote-controlled drug delivery could increase patient compliance, especially for children, elderly, and disabled individuals.
Faraday-Girl Scouts places control experiments with a Girl Scout troop and provides students with images of the same experiments in space. The studies include plant growth, ant colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle.
Musk says next Moon landing will probably be sooner than in 2024
Moscow (Sputnik) Aug 17, 2021
NASA reportedly paid $300 million to SpaceX on 30 July to turn Starship into a crewed Moon lander for its Human Landing System (HLS) programme. In total, the project may require up to $3 billion in funding. Once again, Elon Musk has shared his optimistic views on space exploration, saying that Moon travel may be closer than it seems. Replying to the Twitter account "Everything Artemis", which had asked Musk whether he expected to have Starship ready to land humans on the Moon by 2024, the SpaceX C ... read more
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