More than 20 payloads representing diverse research areas will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard Northrop Grumman’s 19th Commercial Resupply Services mission contracted by NASA. The launch is planned for no earlier than 8:31 p.m. EDT on August 1, 2023, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Below highlights ISS National Lab-sponsored research flying on this mission.
BISHOP – Environment Monitor
Principal Investigator (PI): Christopher Cummins
This technology demonstration utilizes a variety of commercial sensors to evaluate and catalog their performance in the harsh space environment. The results will be used for sensor selection on future science experiments. In addition, these sensors will be used to characterize the environment of the Nanoracks Airlock (NRAL) external payload locations.
Implementation Partner (IP): Nanoracks
This project examines gas-liquid interfaces of various organic mixtures used in heat pipes, which are heat transfer devices used for cooling electronic equipment, such as laptop computers. In these devices, fluid undergoes a phase change from liquid to vapor to transfer heat. The motion and dynamics of the liquid and vapor, as well as the interface between the two phases, can strongly affect the performance of heat pipes and similar systems. Results could contribute to substantial energy savings in energy transmission, manufacturing processes, and operating electromechanical devices by improving the function of heat pipes. This project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).
Engineering Stem Cell-Derived Cardiac Microtissues
PI: Dr. Chunhui Xu
This project, funded by NSF, aims to grow and mature cardiac muscle cells from human stem cells in microgravity to help advance the development of regenerative therapies for patients on Earth with heart disease. The research team hypothesizes that exposing the cells to microgravity and growing them into microtissues in the space environment will reduce tension between cells and improve the tissue architecture. Findings from this investigation will provide insights into the cellular regulation of accelerated stem cell maturation to aid regenerative medicine, the study of heart disease, and drug development.
Evaluations of Bacteriorhodopsin Structural and Functional Stability
PI: Dr. Nicole Wagner
This project aims to examine the effects of microgravity on the structure and function of bacteriorhodopsin, the key protein component of LambdaVision’s artificial retina designed to restore vision in patients with retinal degenerative diseases. Building on previous space station research by LambdaVision, this project seeks to determine if the protein’s proton-pumping mechanism functions as effectively in microgravity as it does on Earth. The research team will examine the long-term effects of the microgravity environment on the structure and stability of bacteriorhodopsin.
IP: Space Tango
High Strain Composite Spiral Wrapped Parabolic Antenna Technology (HSC SWATH)
Opterus Research & Development
PI: Dr. Thomas Murphey
This investigation will use the MISSE Flight Facility on the exterior of the space station to test new laminate materials for use in antenna technology. The research team will study the degradation of carbon nanotube/fiber-reinforced polymer laminates upon exposure to the extreme conditions in low Earth orbit. This project will raise the technology readiness level (TRL) of the laminate materials for use in deployable structures to enable better antenna reflectors for remote sensing.
IP: Aegis Aerospace
Innovative Paralysis Therapy Enabling Neuroregeneration
AXONIS Therapeutics, Inc.
PI: Dr. Lisa McKerracher
This project seeks to test an accelerated model of neurological disease onboard the space station. The research team will leverage microgravity conditions to develop a three-dimensional neuron/astrocyte culture model derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells that more closely mimics the human central nervous system and brain environment. The model will be used as a drug discovery and optimization platform for testing novel gene therapies for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease. For this project, biotechnology startup company AXONIS Therapeutics was awarded the Technology in Space Prize, funded by Boeing and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS), manager of the ISS National Lab, through the MassChallenge startup accelerator program.
This project will conduct two protein crystallization experiments in microgravity. One will crystallize a molecule bound to an intermediate of the prion protein, a key player in brain disorders called prion diseases. Results could advance development of a drug candidate for these diseases. The other experiment will crystallize a monoclonal antibody (mAb) in microgravity to produce large, uniform, high-quality crystals. Results could enable a simpler method to deliver large doses of mAb therapeutics and improve methods for long-term storage of these drugs.
Nanoracks and Sandia National Laboratories
PI: Christopher Cummins
The Low Earth Orbit NREP ISS Demonstration Advanced Sensor (LEONIDAS) builds on previous missions to evaluate new optical remote sensing and data processing technologies in low Earth orbit. The research team from Sandia National Laboratories is interested in collecting real in-orbit data from two optical sensors—an optical framing camera and a new event-based sensor. This data will be used to tune modeling and simulation tools, as well as to train future remote sensing algorithms. In-orbit data is of particular importance as it allows researchers to rapidly understand and baseline sensing background and noise.
Rhodium Space Microgreens
PI: Olivia Gamez Holzhaus
This project is the second in a series of experiments from the Swinburne Youth Space Innovation Challenge, a program jointly developed by Rhodium Scientific and Swinburne University of Technology to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Student researchers designed a project to test germination rates of microgreens in space. In this investigation, the students will examine the germination rates of alfalfa and white clover in microgravity and compare the results with data from control experiments conducted on Earth. Characterization of early seed germination rates will be critical to future efforts to provide space travelers with nutritional plants and enhance food sources.
Sierra Space StemCellEx-H Pathfinder
PI: Dr. Louis Stodieck, BioServe Space Technologies
Co-PI’s: Stefanie M. Countryman, University of Colorado; Dr. Marc Giulianotti, Sierra Space; Dr. Abba Zubair, Mayo Clinic
Sierra Space Corporation and BioServe Space Technologies collaborated on an investigation focused on the in-space production of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) obtained from umbilical cord blood. The project will test methods to launch HSCs, expand and preserve them in space, and then return them to Earth. HSC transplantation has become the standard of care for numerous medical conditions, including blood cancers (leukemias, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma), fatal blood disorders, and severe immune diseases. To help develop the methods for HSC expansion in space, Sierra Space and BioServe worked with a team of researchers at Mayo Clinic that has previously launched stem cell projects to the orbiting laboratory. This investigation will lay the groundwork for future stem cell in-space production applications research.
Space-Production of Lightweight 3D Graphene Aerogels
PI: Dr. Debbie Senesky
University of California, Berkley
PI: Dr. Roya Maboudian
This project seeks to produce graphene aerogels (extremely light-weight solids with high porosity) on Earth and in microgravity to compare the microstructure and material properties. The research team expects the microgravity samples to have a more uniform microstructure, greater strength, and improved material properties. Ultimately, this work will provide the foundation for the engineering of graphene aerogels (and other aerogels) with highly homogenous microstructure and correspondingly superior electrical, mechanical, and thermal properties to enable a wide variety of Earth and space applications. The porous microstructure of aerogels makes them useful as 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.
IP: Redwire Space
PI: Twyman Clements
Quest Institute Multi-Experiment, Educational NanoLab Investigation #6 is a multi-experimental payload. These experiments are taken from up to 16 schools from around the world and coupled together by the Quest Institute in San Jose, California. The students design and develop custom experiments to be done on the space station. Data from each experiment will be gathered throughout mission duration and analyzed by student teams both during flight and postflight.
IP: Space Tango