KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), May 30, 2023 – A student-led genetics investigation, six small satellites called CubeSats, a technology demonstration, and life and materials science payloads are set to fly on SpaceX’s 28th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) contracted by NASA. These investigations, sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, will launch onboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft no earlier than 12:35 p.m. EDT, June 3, 2023, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. These science and technology development projects aim to bring value to humanity and foster commerce in low Earth orbit.
Here is a quick look at some of the payloads on SpaceX CRS-28:
- A student-led Genes in Space™ investigation will test a method to measure telomere lengthening in space. Telomeres are sections of DNA that protect chromosomes from damage. Results from research on telomere lengthening could aid in the development of future therapeutics to combat the aging process for people on Earth or those living in space. This project is from 2022 Genes in Space™ competition winner Pristine Onuoha, a student at East Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Through the annual Genes in Space™ student research competition, founded by Boeing and miniPCR and supported by the ISS National Lab and New England Biolabs, students in grades 7 through 12 can propose pioneering DNA experiments that utilize the unique environment of the space station. Winning proposals are developed into flight projects carried out on station. Results from several past Genes in Space™ student projects have been published in peer-reviewed journals, furthering scientific knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
- Six CubeSats will fly to the space station for deployment—five are student-led projects in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency, and one, called “Moonlighter,” is a first-of-its-kind in-orbit cyber security test bed. Moonlighter was developed by the Aerospace Corporation in coordination with the Air Force Research Laboratory and Space Systems Command. This project, supported by Nanoracks, will allow government and industry professionals to conduct real-time cyber security testing in orbit for the first time. Moonlighter will also be part of a cyber security challenge supported by Aerospace Corporation, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Space Force in which cyber security professionals will compete for a chance to hack the CubeSat while it is in orbit, serving as an opportunity to strengthen cyber security in space.
- An investigation from Stanford University aims to leverage microgravity to improve the synthesis of materials for higher-efficiency and more economical photovoltaic devices (which convert sunlight into electricity) for solar energy applications. Renewable energy sources contribute 22% to global electricity generation, and photovoltaic devices are a fast-growing contributor to solar energy solutions. In this project, the research team seeks to anneal copper indium sulfide (CulnS2) semiconductor crystals in microgravity to reduce defects that occur when the crystals are produced on Earth.
- A team from the University of Southern California will utilize Astrobee—NASA’s free-flying robotic system onboard the space station—to test a new, autonomous spacecraft docking system called CLINGERS. Docking and undocking reconfiguration capabilities for modular spacecraft will be critical in the future low Earth orbit economy, and this system aims to combine a mechanical docking system with rendezvous sensors to enable docking with both active and passive objects. If successful, technologies like CLINGERS could make it easier to safely move objects in space, which is key to developing an in-orbit construction ecosystem.
- SpaceX CRS-28 will also carry supplies for the continuation of two projects that launched on previous missions, one from Commercial Service Provider Redwire Space and one from pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb. Redwire Space is using its BioFabrication Facility (BFF) to bioprint a human meniscus, a protective piece of cartilage between the bones in the knee. The microgravity environment onboard the space station allows the tissues to be printed without scaffolding, which is required on Earth to prevent tissues from collapsing under their own weight. Bristol Myers Squibb will continue its research to improve the crystallization of biologic medicines (protein-based therapeutics derived from living cells). Results could allow the company to enhance the formulation and stability of these drugs so they can be given as a simple injection just under the skin, reducing the time patients have to spend at medical care facilities.
This mission also holds strategic importance for the International Space Station Program. The SpaceX Dragon will bring with it the next set of International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSA) that will be installed by Expedition 69 crew members over a series of spacewalks. Once installed, these solar panels will enhance station energy resources, ensuring the viability of the orbiting platform through 2030.
To learn more about ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations on SpaceX CRS-28, please visit our launch page.
To download a high-resolution photo for this release, click here: SpaceX CRS-27 launches on March 14, 2023
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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, Inc. (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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