KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), February 27, 2020 – When the Dragon spacecraft launches on SpaceX’s 20th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission (contracted through NASA) to the International Space Station (ISS), it will do so with dozens of research experiments to be executed on the orbiting laboratory over the coming months. In particular, the ISS U.S. National Laboratory is sponsoring more than 20 separate payloads on this mission that will leverage the unique space-based environment of station to benefit life on Earth. Launching no earlier than 11:50 p.m. ET on Friday, March 6 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, this mission carries with it a wide variety of research investigations—several funded by private companies focused on technologies critical to their commercial success and others supported by external funds focused on science questions to improve knowledge and human health. Below highlights some of the investigations sponsored by the ISS National Lab on SpaceX CRS-20.
Global shoe and apparel leader adidas will launch its proprietary Boost shoe technology to station to observe the flow of foam particles in microgravity. With this applied physics experiment, adidas seeks to better understand how foam particles of different sizes can improve the performance of its Boost shoe line, creating an even better shoe design for athletes around the world.
Another recognizable consumer brand, Delta Faucet Company, will launch an experiment designed to observe the formation of water droplets on station with the goal of improving its commercially available H2OKinetic® shower head technology. The shower head’s innovative technology is already designed to conserve water by controlling the size and force of water droplets, but Delta Faucet Company believes the microgravity environment of the space station may lead to new designs for the precise control of water droplets that will further enhance the shower head’s ability to conserve water.
This launch also includes multiple investigations funded by external partners. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, one of 27 institutes and centers within the National Institutes of Health, is funding two additional investigations building on its Tissue Chips in Space initiative. Through this initiative, researchers can conduct studies in microgravity using devices called tissue chips that contain human cells and mimic the structure and function of human tissue. Studies using tissue chips in space allow us to better understand how normal human cells in organs function and how, when the cells are not functioning normally, they may cause disease on Earth. Additionally, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding a physical sciences investigation seeking to examine colloidal suspensions, a mixture of large molecules or small particles from one substance dissolved into another substance, in microgravity to help advance 3D printing technology. NSF has funded a variety of investigations studying fluid flow in microgravity to inform us about materials and products on Earth, and this investigation is the latest to launch to the ISS National Lab.
Several projects on SpaceX CRS-20 were developed by innovative startup companies funded in part by Boeing and the ISS National Lab through a MassChallenge “Technology in Space Prize.” Through the MassChallenge business incubator program, Boeing and the ISS National Lab have provided funding and flight opportunities on the ISS National Lab to more than 15 startups. This launch will include three payloads designed to accelerate drug development and improve drug delivery methods for better patient care on Earth.
Multiple academic investigations are also slated to launch as part of this mission. Emory University will study the growth and maturation of cardiomyocytes (specialized heart muscle cells) in microgravity for use in regenerative medicine, disease modeling, and drug discovery. Boston University will conduct a flow chemistry experiment on station to learn how to improve chemical reactions for the on-demand production of chemical products and materials in space.
“The payloads launching on SpaceX CRS-20 demonstrate that the ISS is not only an amazing multi-purpose, multi-user research facility in low Earth orbit but also a proof-of-concept incubator where industries can advance their applied research and technology development programs,” said ISS National Lab Chief Operating Officer Ken Shields. “Moreover, the diversity of investigations supported by the private sector, government agencies, and academic institutions demonstrates the continued rising demand and interest in utilizing our orbiting laboratory to benefit life on Earth and build a thriving market economy in space.”
To learn about all ISS National Lab investigations flying on SpaceX CRS-20, please visit our launch page.
ISS National Laboratory
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About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Lab manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space.
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