KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), July 12, 2021 – In the late hours of July 9, a Dragon spacecraft returning from the International Space Station (ISS) safely splashed down off the coast of Florida. This marked the conclusion of SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission, contracted by NASA. Dragon brought with it a multitude of investigations that had been conducted on station, many of which were sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. Some of these investigations had launched on SpaceX CRS-22 a little more than a month ago, while others had been onboard the orbiting laboratory for several months for evaluation under space-based conditions. Below highlights some of the research that returned on this mission.
To minimize the water consumption used for cotton production, Target Corporation funded a project from the University of Wisconsin to examine the response of cotton plants to the stress of microgravity and evaluate effects on growth and root behavior. This investigation seeks to better understand the genetics involved in root system development, which could lead to the production of cotton plants that use water more efficiently on Earth.
A project from global consumer care company Colgate-Palmolive was the first private-sector oral health care investigation sent to the ISS. The research team sought to identify the molecular characteristics of a healthy and diseased oral microbiome (a microbial community composed of different bacterial species) by cultivating oral bacterial biofilms growing on an enamel-type surface. The project is aimed at studying unique plaque pathologies in relation to oral health status, examining gravity’s effects on biofilm formation and oral dysbiosis (an imbalance in the oral microbial community), and comparing responses to common oral care agents in an effort to create more effective products for consumers on Earth.
The University of Washington’s second Tissue Chips in Space investigation used tissue chip systems to model the human kidney. Tissue chips contain human cells grown on an artificial scaffold to model the structure and function of human tissue. The project sought to better understand kidney stone formation, the body’s use of vitamin D, and a condition in which a person’s urine contains unusually high amounts of protein. Results from this investigation could lead to new treatment options to improve patient care on Earth. This investigation was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health, through the Tissue Chips in Space initiative.
A project from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and funded by the National Science Foundation spent more than a year onboard the ISS. This investigation seeks to leverage microgravity conditions to address both fundamental and technological questions in the science of colloids, suspensions, and slurries. The project is aimed at understanding the equilibrium and dynamics of how particles interact and come together to form larger structures. The results could lead to advances in many fields, including the development of photonic materials that can manipulate light for new displays or the development of new 3D printing technology.
More than 40 payloads returned to Earth on SpaceX CRS-22. For more information about all of the ISS National Lab-sponsored research that launched on this mission, please visit our launch overview page.
Additionally, this year marks the 10th annual ISS Research and Development Conference, being held virtually from August 3-5. To learn more about how the space-based environment of the ISS is influencing research and technology development, bringing value to our nation, and driving a robust market in low Earth orbit, please visit www.issconference.org. It is free to attend, but registration is required.
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About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under cooperative agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit www.ISSNationalLab.org.
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