Watch as ovarian cells and other wild experiments are launched to ISS on Sunday
Update for 5 a.m. ET, Nov. 7: Northrop Grumman is now counting down to launch the Antares rocket and Cygnus NG-18 freighter from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at 5:32 a.m. EST (1032 GMT) today.
Cow ovarian cells are moving to the space station, along with a series of other intriguing science experiments.
The last International Space Station (ISS) transmission, courtesy of a Northrop Grumman robotic Cygnus cargo spacecraft, will fire on the company’s Antares rocket from its Mid-Atlantic regional spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, on Sunday (Nov. 6) no earlier than 5:50 a.m. EST (1050 GMT). You can watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA Television. Coverage starts 20 minutes before launch.
After arriving at the ISS on Tuesday (November 8) and being installed, the bovine cell bonanza (THIS SPACE (opens in new tab)) will see how microgravity affects the growth of cells. This could eventually have applications for human fertility treatments, the experiment’s co-lead researcher Andrew Fuso told Space.com.
“This is really our first approach, and it’s an observational study for now,” Fuso, who is also an associate professor at the Sapienza University of Rome, said during a livestreamed press conference on Oct. 25. After the results are in, the researchers will explore possible drug interventions or edible (nutraceutical) additives to improve fertility outcomes in future studies, he added.
Related: NASA-funded spacesuit technology could help menopause relief
Also on the way to the orbit lab is a 3D printer known as the BioFabrication Facility (opens in new tab)who also made it to space in 2019 to print out some human knee cartilage (specifically the meniscus) and an array of human heart cells.
“We brought [the printer] back to our lab in Indiana…to add a few new capabilities, like the ability to finally control the temperature of each printhead, and now we’re excited to see it launch,” said Rich Boling, vice president of corporate advancement for in-space manufacturing and operations at the company Redwire Space, in the same conference.
Related: Bioprinter will 3D print human tissue on the space station
After another space mission, Redwire will print a new meniscus and study it in the lab to prepare for possible patient transplants in the future, Boling said. Blood vessels and heart tissues will also be manufactured. Redwire is also planning tests for drug efficacy in space on “organoids,” or miniature versions of organs.
Boling hinted that such investigation would continue Orbital Reefa Redwire-supported commercial space station under development for flights in the 2030s. The project is led by Blue origin and Sierra Space, and includes partners such as Boeing and Amazon.
Some of the other experiments making their space debut include: words from NASA (opens in new tab):
- Assess how plants adapt to space: Plants exposed to spaceflight undergo changes that add extra information to their DNA, which regulates how genes turn on or off, but doesn’t change the order of the DNA itself. This process is known as epigenetic change. Plant Habitat-03 (opens in new tab) assesses whether such adaptations in one generation of plants grown in space can be carried over to the next generation.
- Mudflow mixtures: Climate change and global warming are contributing to the increasing number of wildfires. When a wildfire burns plants, burnt chemicals create a thin layer of soil that repels rainwater. Rain then erodes the soil and can turn into catastrophic mudslides that carry heavy boulders and debris down, causing significant damage to infrastructure, watersheds and human lives. Post-Wildfire Mudflow Microstructure (opens in new tab) evaluates the composition of these mudflows, including sand, water, and trapped air.
- First satellites from Uganda and Zimbabwe: BIRDS-5 (opens in new tab) is a constellation of CubeSats: PEARLAFRICASAT-1, the first satellite developed by Uganda; ZIMSAT-1, Zimbabwe’s first satellite; and TAKA from Japan. BIRDS-5 performs multispectral observations of the Earth using a commercially available camera and demonstrates a high energy electronic measuring instrument. The data collected can help distinguish bare land from forest and farmland and possibly provide an indication of the quality of agricultural growth.
- To power the space station: Hardware to be installed outside the drive in preparation for the installation of: Roll-out solar arrays (opens in new tab).
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Why am I taller? (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or facebook (opens in new tab).
#Watch #ovarian #cells #wild #experiments #launched #ISS #Sunday