Northrop Grumman’s 15th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is slated for launch no earlier than February 20 at 12:36 p.m. ET from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is sponsoring more than 10 payloads on this mission, including projects to enhance the capabilities of the orbiting laboratory as well as research and technology development that will bring value to our nation and enable a sustainable market in low Earth orbit.
Below are highlights of ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations that are part of the Northrop Grumman CRS-15 mission to the space station.
3-D Printed Radio Frequency Systems and Materials for High Frequency Communications
Principal Investigator: Dr. Arthur Paolella
This project seeks to test 3D-printed radio frequency (RF) circuits, RF communications systems, and other materials for small satellites in the harsh space environment. The project will use the MISSE Flight Facility, a commercial facility located on the outside of the ISS. 3D printing allows for a reduction in circuit size and the production of complex shapes unachievable through traditional manufacturing. It also involves shorter production cycles than traditional manufacturing and enables responsiveness to critical market changes. Testing on the ISS allows L3Harris Technologies to qualify 3D-printed materials and raise the technology readiness level of its product to bring it to market more quickly.
Implementation Partner: Alpha Space Test & Research Alliance
Characterization of the Function and Stability of Bacteriorhodopsin Following Exposure to a Microgravity Environment
PI: Nicole Wagner, Ph.D.
LambdaVision will continue its investigation aimed at developing a high-resolution, protein-based artificial retina to restore vision to the millions of patients blinded by retinal degenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. These conditions have no cure, and treatments only slow their progression. Artificial retinas or retinal implants may provide a way to restore meaningful vision for those with these conditions. A significant unmet need exists for the development of an effective artificial retina, and microgravity could optimize its production.
Implementation Partner: Space Tango
Grape Juice Fermentation in Microgravity aboard ISS
Michael David Winery, Inc.
PI: Jeffrey Farthing
This project will explore the microbial ecology and dynamics of grape juice fermentation in the absence of gravity. Fermentation, a complex physical and biological process critical to many industries, is mediated by a dynamic microbial community comprised of yeast and bacteria. For this project, the research team will use a defined microbiome to observe microgravity-induced changes in the fermentation products of grape juice. Insight gained from this project could help improve agricultural processes and yields on Earth.
Implementation Partner: CSS
Industrial Crystallization Facility Expansion for ISS Utilization
PI: Michael Snyder
This project will test an automated Single Crystal Growth Chamber (SCGC) for the Made In Space Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF) on the ISS. The ICF will provide a space-based platform for the growth and formulation of large (centimeter-scale) single crystals and other exotic materials of industrially relevant size and quality. For example, microgravity crystallization could significantly improve the production of nonlinear optical crystals, which have many important industrial applications. The SCGC active monitoring system will allow investigators to observe crystal growth in near real time during flight experiments—providing an invaluable diagnostic tool for determining the degree to which gravity affects crystallization.
Implementation Partner: Redwire Space
Nitrogen Fixation of Leguminous Species in MicroG
PI: Ted Tagami
This investigation aims to identify potential effects of the microgravity environment on the growth and development of cowpeas and red clover. In particular, the investigation focuses on the possible development of nodules on the roots. These nodules are able to take gaseous nitrogen and convert it into nitrogenous compounds that may be used as fertilizer. Soil microorganisms, both free-living and those symbiotic with plant species, are critical to converting nutrients into forms that can be used by plants. This investigation increases understanding of legume-associated biological nitrogen fixation, which could contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices.
Implementation Partner: Space Tango
Radiation and Temperature Excitation of Thermographic Phosphor Composites
University of Memphis
PI: Firouzeh Sabri
This project will use the Alpha Space MISSE Flight Facility to examine the effects of the harsh space environment on phosphor powders and composites used for precise temperature measurement. Phosphor-based thermography uses the luminescent properties of phosphors to calculate temperature. This precise and low-cost technique can be used to rapidly measure temperatures ranging from 0°C to 1,200°C. Results from this project will shed light on the radiation tolerance of phosphor powders and composites, providing critical information on the stability of the temperature-dependent properties of phosphor. This experiment will aid in determining the feasibility of using phosphor composite sensors for temperature measurements relevant to the healthcare, petroleum, and aerospace industries.
Implementation Partner: SEOPS, LLC
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
PI: Dr. Mark Fernandez
This project seeks to determine whether the latest commercial off-the-shelf high-performance computer system can be used for space exploration as is, without modification. This investigation will test new techniques for recovering memory and other errors using commercial computing servers in the extreme environment onboard the ISS. Results will demonstrate whether commercial computing systems can survive space and radiation conditions without special hardware.
Implementation Partner: Hewlett Packard Enterprise