KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), November 17, 2022 – When SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches on its next mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the Dragon spacecraft will be loaded with dozens of investigations to be conducted in space, many of which are designed by students. These experiments, sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, are part of an effort to excite and engage the next generation of scientists by enabling students to go beyond the classroom and conduct experiments in space.
SpaceX’s upcoming 26th Commercial Resupply Services mission (SpaceX CRS-26) will carry student-designed experiments developed through ISS National Lab educational partner programs such as the STARWard STEM program and Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. These student-led investigations span a variety of research topics, from studying microgravity’s effects on the germination of seeds to examining how spaceflight affects turmeric plants (a common herb that has medicinal properties) and evaluating microbial solutions for food waste in space.
Students from Moreno Valley, California, are sending carrot seeds to the ISS to study how microgravity affects the germination process. To date, astronauts on the ISS have successfully harvested a variety of leafy plants, such as lettuce and bok choy, along with chili peppers. Results from this student investigation will provide valuable data on whether carrots could be a good crop to grow in space.
Another student-led project aims to examine how microgravity affects the medicinal properties of the turmeric plant. Terrestrially, turmeric has been found to improve brain function and reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. An experiment designed by a group of hearing-impaired students from Mary McArthur Elementary School in North Carolina will evaluate whether microgravity enhances or reduces the medicinal properties of turmeric. Results could prove beneficial not only for astronauts on long-duration missions but also for people on Earth.
To find ways to more efficiently decompose food matter and reduce waste on Earth, a group of students from Michigan proposed an experiment that analyzes how blueberries decompose in microgravity. Results could help researchers better understand gravity’s role in the decomposition process, which could have implications for future space agriculture programs as well as agricultural processes on Earth.
Additionally, three payloads supported by the Girl Scouts of America and Space Kids Global will look at how brine shrimp (more commonly known as sea monkeys) move and behave in space, the effects of microgravity on ant behaviors, and plant growth in low Earth orbit.
These projects and many more will fly on SpaceX CRS-26, which is targeted to launch from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than November 21 at 4:19 p.m. EST. This mission will include more than 20 ISS National Lab-sponsored payloads. To learn more about all ISS National Lab-sponsored research on SpaceX CRS-26, please visit our launch page.
Download high-resolution photos for this release: SpaceX CRS-26 Student Payloads
View the SpaceX CRS-26 overview video: SpaceX CRS-26 Research: Overview
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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 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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