Space Station Spotlight Newsletter

Welcome to the October issue of Space Station Spotlight, a monthly newsletter from the ISS National Laboratory. Here’s where you can find all the latest R&D happenings on the space station, see what our partners are up to, and learn how you can elevate your research to new heights by leveraging the unique space environment.

What's new at the ISS National Lab?

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the companys Cargo Dragon spacecraft atop, is raised to a vertical position at NASA Kennedy Space Centers Launch Complex 39A on July 12, 2022, in preparation for the 25th commercial resupply services launch to the ISS.

See what’s launching.

The ISS National Lab will hold a prelaunch webinar for the upcoming SpaceX CRS-29 cargo resupply mission. On Oct. 31, members of the media will have the opportunity to participate in a live webinar discussing payloads launching on the mission. The public can also view the webinar at www.ISSNationalLab.org/live-stream.

upward63 perspective marguiles

Space is the place for fundamental science.

Susan Margulies, who leads NSF’s Directorate for Engineering, authored a perspective piece in the latest issue of Upward , the official magazine of the ISS National Lab, discussing the importance of U.S. government agencies partnering with the ISS National Lab to advance critical research. Margulies also talked about the value of conducting fundamental science in space during a keynote discussion at ISSRDC 2023.

3DI neuronal cells cultured in microgravity for Neuronix, which tests a gene therapy for neurological diseases.

Neurons assemble!

Space station crew members worked on a number of scientific experiments over the past month, including one that studie how human brain cells mature into 3D spheroids in microgravity. This research could lead to new therapies for neurological disorders.

Heart cells derived from human stem cells stained for muscle protein (green) and nuclei (blue).

Scientists engineer heart tissue in microgravity.

Crew members also worked on an investigation looking at how microgravity affects heart muscle cells as they mature into tissue-like structures. Results could lead to improved treatments for patients with heart disease.

Partner News

Axiom Space partners with Prada to design future spacesuits. Axiom is one of two suppliers working on new spacesuits for NASA. Through a new partnership with Prada, Axiom Space will leverage the design house’s extensive technical knowledge to develop advanced suits for astronauts to wear on the Moon during the Artemis III mission.

Blue Origin announces its new Blue Ring platform. The new platform will provide in-space logistics and delivery to help address two major challenges in low Earth orbit: growing space infrastructure and increasing mobility in orbit. It will also support a variety of payloads and can help with data relay, in-space cloud computing, and refueling activities.

Northrop Grumman partners with Voyager Space on Starlab. NASA confirmed that Northrop Grumman (NG) will abandon its own future commercial space station to partner with Voyager Space on its planned Starlab. NG will use its Cygnus cargo vehicle to fly to Starlab and will upgrade its onboard systems to make the craft capable of autonomous docking.

iss065e085491 (June 3, 2021) NASA astronaut and Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur loads protein crystallography plates with protein solutions for the Real time Protein Crystal Growth experiment. The biotechnology study demonstrates new methods for producing high quality protein crystals in microgravity. Results may help identify new targets and develop better drugs to treat a variety of diseases on Earth and advance the commercialization of low Earth orbit.

Funding Opportunities

A new research opportunity is now open. The ISS National Lab announced an in-space production applications solicitation for applied R&D seeking to demonstrate space-based tissue engineering and biomanufacturing technologies and products. Concept summaries are due November 13, 2023. Learn more here.

Results

A new issue of Upward is out. Explore exciting results from space-based R&D in the official magazine of the ISS National Lab. Download the latest issue and previous issues here.

Read the new Upward cover story. Unlocking the Secrets of the Immune System” discusses how researchers from the University of California, San Francisco leveraged the unique space environment for research that could lead to better treatments for patients with immune system dysfunction.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren processes samples inside the Life Science Glovebox for the Immunosenescence space biology study.

STEM Education and Workforce Development

Cumberland County students during their visit to Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.

North Carolina students reach for the stars. To inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, STARWard STEM gives students in Cumberland County, North Carolina the opportunity to design experiments to fly to space. Participating students discussed their research at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex ahead of the launch that will carry their experiments to the space station.

Students learn about eclipses through Story Time From Space. NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen read the book “Totality!” from onboard the space station ahead of the annular eclipse that took place on Oct. 14. The book, which teaches kids about solar eclipses, was written by Jeffrey Bennett. Bowen also conducted science demonstrations on the science behind eclipses.

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