Wallops Flight Facility (VA), July 25, 2023 – A diverse set of payloads is slated to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard Northrop Grumman’s 19th Commercial Resupply Services mission contracted by NASA. Among the more than 8,200 pounds of critical research and supplies are three projects funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory. Additional payloads sponsored by the ISS National Lab on the mission include biomedical investigations, research from companies to enhance their products, and projects to validate new capabilities for space-based research. This mission is scheduled to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia no earlier than 8:31 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, August 1, 2023.
To date, NSF has funded 20 projects that have launched to the orbiting platform under the sponsorship of the ISS National Lab. These projects stem from annual calls for proposals in tissue engineering and transport phenomena disciplines. Below outlines the three projects that are flying through NSF-funded grants on this mission:
- A team from Emory University will continue research examining how microgravity affects the growth and function of heart muscle cells as they mature into tissue-like structures. Findings will help advance cardiac disease modeling and could lead to the development of new therapies to treat heart disease in patients on Earth.
- An investigation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) aims to improve the efficiency of heat transfer devices used in various technologies, from laptops to large telescopes in space. As electronics continue to shrink in size, they generate more power, resulting in the need for more efficient means of cooling. This experiment will test new ways of diagnosing heat pipe malfunctions, which could lead to improved heat transfer devices.
- Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley seek to compare graphene aerogels (extremely lightweight solids with high porosity) produced on Earth and in microgravity. The study will investigate the effects of microgravity on the growth process and the final material properties of aerogels. They expect the microstructure to be more uniform in the microgravity samples, with improved strength and material properties. Results from this investigation could lead to improved thermal insulators for use in heat management applications, and the high surface area makes them promising for energy storage (e.g., batteries, supercapacitors) and sensing (e.g., gas sensing) applications.
“This longstanding partnership gives talented scientists and engineers from across the country unparalleled access to a one-of-a-kind research environment,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “The unique conditions on the space station provide an exciting and innovative solution to research challenges here on Earth, enabling critical new insights faster than ever before.”
Additional ISS National Lab-sponsored research on this mission includes a project from Axonis, a biotech startup, that seeks to test an accelerated model of neurological disease in hopes of creating therapeutics to combat similar diseases in the future. Also, Sierra Space and BioServe Space Technologies will partner with the Mayo Clinic to validate the in-space production of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) obtained from umbilical cord blood. Successful implementation of this project will lay the groundwork for future stem cell in-space production applications research.
Tec-Masters will use this mission to validate the capabilities of the Microgravity Research for Versatile Investigations (MaRVIn) facility. This facility will serve as an experiment processing system to support future physical science investigations.
These are just a few examples of investigations sponsored by the ISS National Lab that are set to launch on this mission. In the coming days, the ISS National Lab will put out a variety of press releases highlighting projects launching onboard the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft.
Research sponsored by the ISS National Lab is intended to bring value to our nation through space-based research and technology development while enabling a sustainable marketplace in low Earth orbit. To learn more about all ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations, please visit our launch page.
Notice of correction: This press release was modified to include the University of California, Berkeley as a collaborator on one of the projects.
Download a high-resolution photo for this release: NG-18 at Wallops Flight Facility
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About the International Space Station (ISS) 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 space station 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), Inc. 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 website.