Advancing Research Knowledge 5, or "ARK5", represents the fifth calendar year that CASIS has enabled investigations that have been manifested and launched to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. The mission of CASIS is to manage, promote, and broker research investigations on the ISS National Lab intended to benefit life on Earth. In total, CASIS has enabled well over 100 research experiments have been launched to the ISS National Lab in 2017, in addition to multiple new research facilities.

ARK5 Payloads

SpaceX CRS-12 with over 20 CASIS / ISS National Lab Payloads

SpaceX CRS-12 Payloads

Launch Date: August 14, 2017, 12:31 PM ET

  • Activity of Mutated Drosophila in Microgravity

    King’s College (London, England)

    Visible differences in flight between normal and mutant Drosophila flies will be monitored to identify if there are any positive differences in movement by placing the flies in a microgravity environment. The International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) in partnership with King’s College in London lead this endeavor.

    Hardware Partner: Space Tango

  • Cactus-Mediated Carbon Dioxide Removal in Microgravity

    King’s College (London, England)

    Oxygen output and carbon dioxide intake of a cactus sempervivum will be measured and evaluated to provide information on how to improve the efficiency of carbon dioxide regulation of long-term space travel. The ISSET is in partnership with King’s College in London on this investigation.

    Hardware Partner: Space Tango

  • Conversion of Adipogenic Mesenchymal Stem Cells into Mature Cardiac Myocytes

    Dr. Robert Schwartz, University of Houston (Houston, TX)

    Conversion of Adipogenic Mesenchymal Stem Cells into Mature Cardiac Myocytes uses the microgravity environment of space to examine how stem cells differentiate into specialized heart cells (cardiac myocytes). Previous studies using microgravity chambers on Earth have found that low gravity environments help specially programmed stem cells move toward becoming new heart muscle cells. The Cardiac Myocytes experiment delivers frozen stem cells in an experimental setup to the ISS where the cells are thawed, cultured under specific conditions, tagged, and then returned to Earth for analysis and comparison with control batches.

    Hardware Partner: Techshot

  • Crystallization of LRRK2 under Microgravity Conditions (CASIS PCG 7)

    Drs. Marco Baptista, Sebastian Mathea, and Stefan Knapp, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (New York City, NY)

    Crystallization of LRRK2 Under Microgravity Conditions (CASIS PCG 7) uses the microgravity environment onboard the ISS to grow larger versions of an important protein, LRRK2, implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Defining the structure of LRRK2 would help scientists better understand the pathology of Parkinson’s and aid in the development of therapies against this target. However, on Earth, gravity interferes with the growth of this protein, leading to the generation of crystals that are small and too compact to study. CASIS PCG 7 uses automated biotechnology devices in space to grow larger crystals of this protein, which are then returned to Earth for detailed laboratory analysis.

    Hardware Partner: CASIS

  • The Effect of Microgravity on Stem Cell Mediated Recellularization

    Dr. Alessandro Grattoni, Houston Methodist Research Institute (Houston, TX) and Dr. Joan E. Nichols, University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, TX)

    The Effect of Microgravity on Stem Cell Mediated Recellularization (Lung Tissue) uses the microgravity environment of space to test strategies for growing new lung tissue. Using the latest bioengineering techniques, the Lung Tissue experiment cultures different types of lung cells in controlled conditions aboard the ISS. The cells are grown in a specialized framework that supplies them with critical growth factors so that scientists can observe how gravity affects growth and specialization as cells become new lung tissue.

    Hardware Partner: BioServe Space Technologies

  • Genes in Space-4

    Scott Copeland, The Boeing Company (Houston, TX)

    Heat shock proteins are a family of chaperone proteins in cells that are induced by stress, including physical, chemical, or environmental stress. Their induction provokes a shielding role that protects the cell from entering an apoptosis, or cell death pathway. Under stressful conditions, the cell elevates the levels of different heat shock proteins that will work to stop different apoptotic proteins. Astronauts’ bodies are subject to different kinds of stress in space (cosmic radiation, microgravity, etc.), so although their heat shock response will initiate, the question is—will it continue to protect cells even after prolonged exposure to multiple stressors? This study is novel because the efficiency of heat shock proteins has not been studied in humans after a prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravity. This experiment will use a model organism, the roundworm (Caenorhabditis elegan), and will investigate if the gene is expressed during stressful conditions in microgravity.

    Hardware Partners: Amplyus and Boeing

  • Eli Lilly-Lyophilization

    Jeremy Hinds, Eli Lilly & Company (Indianapolis, IN)

    Lyophilization in Microgravity (Eli Lilly-Lyophilization) examines freeze-drying processes in the microgravity environment onboard the ISS. Freeze-drying is used to preserve food and medication but may create layering or other textures in the presences of gravity. Eli Lilly-Lyophilization freeze-dries a range of samples under microgravity conditions onboard the ISS and then returns the samples to Earth for comparison with control samples.

    Hardware Partner: Zin Technologies

  • Evaluation of Radiation Deterrent Materials

    Go For Launch! Deerfield Program (Deerfield, IL)

    Passive radiation-shielding materials will be evaluated based on density, cost, and on-orbit radiation deterrent effect to determine the most advantageous material for long-term space travel. The Higher Orbits Foundation and the 2016 Andromeda Award Winning Team DASA from Go For Launch! Deerfield Program will lead this investigation.

    Hardware Partner: Space Tango

  • NanoRacks – Cuberider-1

    Sebastian Chaoui, Drummoyne NSW 2047 (Australia)

    NanoRacks-CUBERIDER-1 (NanoRacks-CR-1) is an educational module that runs on computer code written by 9th and 10th graders. Students program sensors on NanoRacks-CR-1 to record data in the microgravity environment and conduct tests onboard the ISS and then send results back to Earth. Through this investigation, students devise their own experiments and experience space science firsthand.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

  • NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education – Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 11

    Dr. Jeff Goldstein, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (Washington, D.C.)

    The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) was launched in June 2010 as an education initiative that gives students the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit. The program provides seamless integration across STEM disciplines through an authentic, high-visibility research experience—an approach that embraces the Next Generation Science Standards. SSEP immerses hundreds of students at the local level in the research experience—students are truly given the ability to be real scientists and engineers. On the 11th mission from SSEP, 21 separate investigations will be launched from communities all over the United States and Canada.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

  • NanoRacks-SMDC-Maryland Aerospace Inc.-Kestrel Eye IIM (NanoRacks-KE2M)

    Maryland Aerospace Inc. (Crofton, MD)

    NanoRacks-SMDC-Kestrel Eye IIM (NanoRacks-KE IIM) is a microsatellite carrying an optical imaging system payload, including a Commercial Orbital Transportation System telescope. This investigation validates the concept of using microsatellites in low Earth orbit to support critical operations. An overall goal is to demonstrate that small satellites are viable platforms for providing critical path support to operations and hosting advanced payloads.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

  • NanoRacks-Ramon SpaceLab-01

    Maya Golan, The Ramon Foundation (Giv’atayim, Irsael)

    NanoRacks-Ramon SpaceLab-01 (NanoRacks-RSL-01) is a compilation of five NanoRacks MixStix investigations onboard the ISS. These investigations are aimed at examining the effect of microgravity on yeast fermentation, testing whether microgravity accelerates the dissolving of medication in simulated stomach acid, testing the formation of more stable emulsions of oil and water in space, measuring the growth of yeast in urine as a potential source of vitamins and a mechanism of filtering urine for drinking, and observing the transfer of a fluorescent plasmid during conjugation of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria in microgravity as a step toward genetically engineering proteins.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

  • NASA ELaNa 22 - CubeSat Launch Initiative – ASTERIA – JPL – NanoRacks

    Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston, MA)
    (In partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

    ASTERIA (Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) is a technology demonstration and opportunistic science mission to advance the state-of-the art in CubeSat capabilities for astrophysical measurements. The goal of ASTERIA is to achieve arcsecond-level line of sight pointing error and highly stable focal plane temperature control. These technologies will enable precision photometry, i.e., the careful measurement of stellar brightness over time. This in turn provides a way to study stellar activity, transiting exoplanets, and other astrophysical phenomena, both during the ASTERIA mission and in future CubeSat constellations.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

  • NASA ELaNa 22 – CubeSat Launch Initiative – DELLINGR/RBLE – Goddard – NanoRacks

    Dr. Larry Kepko, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, MD)

    A stream of charged particles called the solar wind, flows constantly outward from the dynamic sun, impacting Earth’s magnetic field and leading to space weather effects, including roiling the outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere. Dellingr/RBLE measures the magnetic fluctuations and molecular changes in this layer of Earth’s upper atmosphere in order to determine baseline conditions and observe space weather impacts. DELLINGR/RBLE will be deployed into low-Earth orbit via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) on the ISS.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

  • NDC-3: Chicagoland Boy Scouts and Explorers

    Dr. Sandra Rogers, Boy Scouts of America Pathway to Adventures Council (Chicago, IL)

    Boy Scout Troop 209, based in the Chicago-land area, will conduct an experiment so that the team can measure the mutation rate of a bacterium in a microgravity environment. Its findings could impact research on everything from tissue growth to cancer.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks, LLC

  • Spaceborne Computer

    Dr. Eng Lim Goh, and David Peterson, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (San Jose, CA)

    Spaceborne Computer intends to run a year-long experiment of a high-performance commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer system on the ISS. COTS computer systems can be programmed to detect and respond to radiation events by lowering operating speeds or ‘powering down.’ This research helps scientists identify ways of using software to protect ISS computers without expensive or bulky protective shielding.

    Hardware Partner: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

  • Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems (STaARS-1) Research Facility

    Dr. Heath Mills, Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems Inc. (Houston, TX)

    The STaARS-1 Research Facility is a multipurpose facility that will enable a broad range of experiments on the ISS. In the pharmaceutical market, STaARS-1 will facilitate novel drug discovery, drug compound production, and virulence modeling. STaARS-1 will support biomedical therapeutic markets through drug delivery system development, regenerative tissue engineering (stem cell technologies), and biofilm formation prevention. Within the energy markets, STaARS-1 will support studies targeting novel biofuel production through enhanced quality and quantity of multiple compounds.

    Hardware Partner: Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems Inc.

  • STaARS BioScience-1

    Dr. Sarah Wallace, NASA Johnson Space Center (Houston, TX)

    STaARS BioScience-1 investigates the question of why a harmful strain of bacteria appears to abandon its harmful properties when exposed to microgravity environments. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (S. Aureus) N315 is an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that mysteriously becomes innocuous when exposed to induced microgravity conditions on Earth. Extending this research into space, STaARS BioScience-1 uses automated equipment to grow S. Aureus N315 in protected batch cultures onboard the ISS and then returns the samples to Earth-based labs for detailed analysis of their biochemistry and genetic expression.

    Hardware Partner: Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems Inc.


    Dr. Brandi Reese, Texas A&M Corpus Christi (Corpus Christi, TX)

    Intraterrestrial Fungus (STaARS-iFUNGUS) cultures a rare type of fungus in the microgravity environment of space in order to search for new antibiotics. The fungus, Penicillium chrysogenum, differs from other fungi because it comes from deep in the Earth’s subsurface and shows potential as a source for new antibacterial compounds. The STaARS-iFUNGUS experiment transports frozen samples of fungal spores to the ISS, grows the fungus in different nutrient mixtures over different intervals, refreezes the samples, and then returns them to Earth, where scientists examine how they grew and what chemicals they produced.

    Hardware Partner: Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems Inc.

  • Story Time from Space – 4

    Patricia Tribe, T2 Science and Math Education Consultants (League City, TX)

    Story Time From Space combines science literacy outreach with simple demonstrations recorded onboard the ISS. Crew members read five science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related children’s books in orbit and complete simple science concept experiments. Crew members videotape themselves reading the books and completing demonstrations. Video and data collected during the demonstrations are downlinked to the ground and posted in a video library with accompanying educational materials. This marks the fourth opportunity for these books to launch to station.

    Hardware Partner: CASIS

SPACEX Dragon Capsule Docking with the ISS for CASIS ARK5 Mission

SPACEX CRS-11 Payloads

Launch Date: June 3, 2017 at 5:07 PM ET


    Matthew Lynch, Procter & Gamble (West Chester, OH)

    Colloids are suspensions of microscopic particles in a liquid, and they are found in products ranging from milk to fabric softener. Consumer products often use colloidal gels to distribute specialized ingredients, for instance droplets that soften fabrics, but the gels must serve two opposite purposes: they have to disperse the active ingredient so it can work, yet maintain an even distribution so the product does not spoil. Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T-6) studies the microscopic behavior of colloids in gels and creams, providing new insight into fundamental interactions that can improve product shelf life.

    Hardware Partner: NASA Glenn Research Center and Zin Technologies, Inc.


    Bell Middle School (Golden, CO)

    Vermicomposting, or using worms to break down food scraps, is an effective way to reduce waste and obtain a nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants. The NanoRacks-NDC-Bell Middle School-Efficiency of Vermicomposting in a Closed System (NanoRacks-NDC-BMS-Vermicomposting) investigation is a student-designed project that studies whether red wiggler worms, a species of earthworm, are able to produce compost in space. Results are used to study the potential for composting as a form of recycling on future long-duration space missions.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks


    Dr. Mary Kearns-Jonker, Loma Linda University (Loma Linda, CA)

    Functional Effects of Spaceflight on Cardiovascular Stem Cells (Cardiac Stem Cells) investigates how microgravity alters stem cells and the factors that govern stem cell activity, including physical and molecular changes. Spaceflight is known to affect cardiac function and structure, but the biological basis for this is not clearly understood. This investigation helps clarify the role of stem cells in cardiac biology and tissue regeneration. In addition, this research could confirm the hypothesis that microgravity accelerates the aging process.

    Hardware Partner: BioServe Space Technologies


    Paul Galloway, Teledyne Brown Engineering (Huntsville, AL)

    Teledyne Brown Engineering developed the Multiple User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES), an Earth imaging platform, as part of the company’s new commercial space-based digital imaging business. MUSES hosts earth-viewing instruments (Hosted Payloads), such as high resolution digital cameras, hyperspectral imagers, and provides precision pointing and other accommodations. It hosts up to four instruments at the same time, and offers the ability to change, upgrade, and robotically service those instruments. It also provides a test bed for technology demonstration and technology maturation by providing long-term access to the space environment on the ISS.

    Hardware Partner: Teledyne Brown Engineering


    Tomohiro Ichikawa, Lagrange Corp. (Tokyo, Japan)

    Spaceflight affects organisms in a wide range of ways, from a reduction in human bone density to changes in plant root growth. NanoRacks-JAMSS-2 Lagrange-1 helps students understand potential spaceflight-related changes by exposing plant seeds to microgravity, and then germinating and growing them on Earth. The plants are compared with specimens grown from seeds that remained on the ground. The investigation also connects students to the space program by sending their photographic likenesses and personal messages into orbit. This connection inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers who will work on international space programs.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks


    Dr. Andrey Kovalevsky, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN)

    The investigative team is trying to improve our understanding of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme essential for normal communication between nerve cells and between nerve and muscle cells. As a target of deadly neurotoxins produced by animals as venom or by man as nerve agents and pesticides, understanding the structure of acetylcholinesterase is critical to designing better antidotes to poisoning by chemicals that attack the nervous system. The Oak Ridge National Lab team plans to use the microgravity environment of space to grow large crystals of the enzyme that will be imaged back on Earth using a powerful imaging approach called neutron diffraction. Neutron diffraction yields very detailed structural information but requires much larger crystals than traditional x-ray diffraction imaging methods. The investigators hypothesize that structural images of space-grown crystals will bring us closer to more effective and less toxic antidotes for neurotoxins that bind and inhibit acetylcholinesterase.

    Hardware Partner: CASIS


    Dr. Jeff Goldstein, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (Washington, D.C.)

    The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) provides one of the most exciting educational opportunities available: student-designed experiments to be flown on the International Space Station. The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Odyssey (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Odyssey) investigation contains 24 student experiments, including microgravity studies of plant, algae and bacterial growth; polymers; development of multi-cellular organisms; chemical and physical processes; antibiotic efficacy; and allergic reactions. The program immerses students and teachers in real science, providing first-hand experience conducting scientific experiments and connecting them to the space program.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks


    Dr. Chia Soo, University of California at Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

    Astronauts living in space for extended durations experience bone density loss, or osteoporosis. Currently, countermeasures include daily exercise designed to prevent bone loss from rapid bone density loss deterioration. However, in space and on Earth, therapies for osteoporosis cannot restore bone that is already lost. The Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for Osteoporosis (Rodent Research-5) investigation tests a new drug on rodents that can both rebuild bone and block further bone loss, improving health for crew members in orbit and people on Earth. Dr. Soo’s laboratory has been funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases within the National Institutes of Health. This experiment builds on those previous research investigations.

    Hardware Partner: NASA Ames Research Center and BioServe Space Technologies


    Chatfield High School (Littleton, CO)

    Algae can produce both fats and hydrogen, which can each be used as fuel sources on Earth and potentially in space. NanoRacks-National Design Challenge-Chatfield High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Two Strains of Biofuel Producing Algae with Implications for the Production of Renewable Fuels in Space Based Applications (NanoRacks-NDC-CHS-The Green Machine) studies two algae species to determine whether they still produce hydrogen and store fats while growing in microgravity. Results from this student-designed investigation improve efforts to produce a sustainable biofuel in space, as well as remove carbon dioxide from crew quarters.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks


    Ann Jorss, First the Seed Foundation (Alexandria, VA)

    Tomatosphere is a hands-on student research experience with a standards-based curriculum guide that provides students the opportunity to investigate, create, test, and evaluate a solution for a real world case study. Tomatosphere provides information about how spaceflight affects seed and plant growth and which type of seed is likely to be most suitable for long duration spaceflight. It also exposes students to space research, inspiring the next generation of space explorers. It is particularly valuable in urban school settings where students have little connection to agriculture. In its 15-year existence, the program has reached approximately 3.3 million students.

    Hardware Partner: CASIS


    Valley Christian High School (San Jose, CA), in partnership with other high schools throughout the world

    Students at Valley Christian High School (VCHS) have a rich history of sending investigations to the ISS through its launch partner, NanoRacks. On SpaceX CRS-11, students from VCHS have partnered with other students from across the world to send 12 total experiments to the ISS National Laboratory. Investigations will range from investigating high quality food nutrients, to the fermentation of microbes, to even an investigation monitoring the growth of a special bacterial strain. The program VCHS has developed with NanoRacks allows students the opportunity to not only conceive a flight project, but learn, understand, and implement the engineering required for a successful experiment in microgravity.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

Orbital ATK OS-7 / CRS-7 attached to Canadarm

Orbital ATK CRS-7 Payloads

Launch Date: April 18, 2017, 11:11 AM ET

  • ALTAIR Pathfinder Investigation

    Griffith Russell, M.S., Millennium Space Systems, El Segundo, CA

    Groups of small satellites can improve access to space because they are less costly, more easily customized, and therefore less risky to launch and operate than larger individual satellites. The Millennium Space Systems ALTAIR™ Pathfinder investigation tests and qualifies for space new platform technologies developed by Millennium Space Systems, a private firm that offers satellites for missions in low Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and deep space. The investigation will demonstrate that the ALTAIR design and technologies work as planned, paving the way for future satellite programs with NASA and the Department of Defense.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

  • Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) in Microgravity

    Sourav Sinha, Oncolinx Pharmaceuticals LLC, Boston, MA

    This investigation seeks to test the efficacy and drug metabolism of Azonafide ADCs in microgravity 3-D cell cultures. ADCs are therapeutics that target tumors through receptors on the surface of cancer cells, thereby reducing toxicity and increasing effectiveness of the therapy. Compared to cell cultures in a dish on Earth, cell cultures in microgravity serve as better tumor models due to specific cellular responses to the space environment. For example, cells arrange themselves into three-dimensional groups, or aggregates, in microgravity that more closely resemble tumors in the body here on Earth. These changes in the 3-D structure of tumors cultured in microgravity result in improved cancer models that are better able to predict the performance of therapeutics and accelerate the timeline for bringing a drug to market to fight cancer.

    Hardware Partner: Bioserve Space Technologies

  • Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2)

    Benjamin Malphrus, Ph.D., Morehead State University, Morehead, KY

    A second-generation nanosatellite that refines critical measurements for explaining the origin of the Universe. It uses an advanced materials detector system, a novel instrument configuration and a detector array twice the size of that used by the preceding CXBN mission. Data collected by the instrument minimizes critical uncertainties in subtle signals left over from the Big Bang and may clarify other sources of interstellar radiation as well. The instrument collects data for a year’s time and enlists the help of citizen scientists and K-12 groups in satellite tracking.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

  • Crystal Growth of Cs2LiYCl6:CE Scintillators in Microgravity

    Alexei Churilov, Ph.D., Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc., Watertown, MA

    The purpose of this payload is to conduct a series of experiments to grow scintillator crystals. Scintillators excite when exposed to certain types of radiation and can be used in detectors, for safety monitoring or homeland security applications. This investigation will leverage the modernized Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA)* furnace, which operates inside the ISS Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG).

    Hardware Partner: Teledyne Brown Engineering

  • CSUNSat1 (Battery sustainability in space)

    Sharlene Katz, Ph.D., P.E., California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA

    A CubeSat that tests out a new light-weight, longer-life battery system designed for the cold temperatures of space. A new configuration of high energy density materials known as ultra-capacitors, along with updated lithium-ion battery technology allows CSUNSat1 batteries to operate at very low temperatures without the added weight of a defrost system. A set of quantitative power and capacity goals are used to assess the battery system performance over a 200 day mission period.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

  • Detached Melt and Vapor Growth of Indium Iodine in SUBSA Hardware

    Aleksandar Ostrogorsky, Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL

    Leveraging the SUBSA furnace inside the ISS MSG, this investigation aims to synthesize new types of semiconductor crystals in microgravity. The research team hypothesizes these materials will be similar to other semiconductor materials in its non-toxicity and that the new material can be developed at a much faster rate.

    Hardware Partner: Teledyne Brown Engineering

  • Genes in Space-2

    Julian Rubinfien (Sponsored by The Boeing Company as part of the Genes in Space competition), New York City, NY

    The rigors of spaceflight induce physiological, genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic, and metabolomic changes within the human body. One such change is a shift in the dynamics of telomeres, critical protective caps on the tips of chromosomes. The shortening of telomeres over time as an individual ages is natural, but stresses can lead to aberrant regulation of telomere length, which has been implicated in a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and various cancers. Understanding how regulation of telomere length can change during spaceflight and how this may contribute to symptoms of disease experienced by astronauts is important for future space missions. This investigation seeks to determine whether telomeric DNA can be amplified in space, a necessary step to create an assay capable of measuring telomere changes during spaceflight.

    Hardware Partner: Boeing/miniPCR

  • IceCube (Ice particle measurements within clouds)

    Dong Wu, Ph.D., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

    IceCube consists of a CubeSat launched from the ISS that performs first-of-a-kind measurements of ice particles embedded within clouds. These measurements not only advance atmospheric monitoring technology, they also fill in critical gaps in understanding of how cloud ice affects the weather and how cloud formations process atmospheric radiation. IceCube uses a sensor new to space exploration that detects ice particles of different sizes at altitudes that correspond to the upper areas of heavy thunderstorms or the mid-sections of hurricane systems.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

  • LEMUR-2

    Jenny Barna, Spire Global, Inc., San Francisco, CA

    About 90 percent of global trade is shipped by sea, but tracking of oceangoing ships is inefficient; many ships are unmonitored as they transit the world’s oceans, far from land and out of range of ground based beacons. The NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 satellites are part of a remote sensing satellite constellation that provides global ship tracking and weather monitoring. The satellites in this investigation are deployed from both the ISS and the visiting space vehicle, demonstrating the technology at a range of altitude bands.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

  • Magnetic 3D Cell Culture for Biological Research in Microgravity

    Glauco Souza, Ph.D., Nano3D Biosciences, Inc., Houston, TX

    This investigation seeks to incorporate magnetic cell culture technology into existing flight hardware and optimize platform operation to support continued 3D cell growth. This project will lay the foundation for flight experiments to explore the use of magnetic nanoparticles and magnetic fields to culture cells on the ISS.

    Hardware Partner: Bioserve Space Technologies

  • National Design Challenge-Bacterial Lag Phase

    Brian Thomas, Centaurus High School, Lafayette, CO

    The Effects of Simulated Gravity on Bacterial Lag Phase in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks Module 55: NanoRacks-NDCCHS-Bacterial Lag Phase) studies the bacterial lag phase, a delay period before the start of exponential growth, which is much shorter in microgravity than it is on Earth. The experiment uses a centrifuge to simulate gravity in orbit, comparing microgravity and simulated-gravity Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultures to determine whether microgravity itself causes changes in bacterial growth.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

  • QB50

    QB50 Consortium, European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development

    This project uses the International Space Station to deploy a constellation of 28 CubeSats, from a total of 38, in order to study the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere over a period of 1 to 2 years. This constellation is the result of an international collaboration involving academia and research institutes from 15 different countries around the world. The project, coordinated by the QB50 Consortium, receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The QB50 satellites conduct coordinated measurements on a poorly studied and previously inaccessible zone of the atmosphere referred to as the thermosphere. The project monitors different gaseous molecules and electrical properties of the thermosphere to better understand space weather and its long-term trends.

    Hardware Partner: NanoRacks

  • SG100 Cloud Computing Payload

    Trent Martin, Business Integra, Houston, TX

    This investigation represents a technology-readiness-level (TRL) advancement of SG100, a single board computer platform that can support the much higher processor demands of the current and future scientific and aerospace applications in low Earth orbit. The test period will be two years, with interim data report intervals. The technology will provide a low-risk solution for satellite developers and space-science researchers.

    Hardware Partner: Business Integra

SpaceX CRS10 Dragon Capsule Approaching ISS

SpaceX CRS-10 Payloads

Launch Date: February 19 2017, 10:39 AM ET

  • Merck Microgravity Crystallization Projects (CASIS PCG-5)

    Paul Reichert, M.S., Merck Research Laboratories, Kenilworth, NJ

    Microgravity effects such as reduced sedimentation, minimal convection currents and reduced molecular diffusion rates, may provide insights for bio-pharmaceutical research. With this experiment, Merck Research Labs seeks to understand the impact of the microgravity environment on the structure, delivery method and purification of KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. Data from this experiment will provide insights on the future of drug delivery, product development and manufacturing. KEYTRUDA is being evaluated in over 30 tumor types in more than 400 clinical trials, at least half of which combine KEYTRUDA with other cancer treatments. Merck has been working with CASIS since 2012.


    Dr. Abba Zubair, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

    Currently, there is no safe, reliable, and effective method to rapidly grow some types of human stem cells on Earth for use in the treatment of disease. This investigation will utilize the microgravity environment for cultivation of clinical-grade stem cells for therapeutic applications in humans. Results of this investigation will support clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of microgravity-expanded stem cells and will support subsequent studies for large-scale expansion of clinical-grade stem cells for the treatment of patients who have suffered a stroke.


    Dr. Larry DeLucas, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

    This project seeks to test the hypothesis that the improved quality of microgravity-grown biological crystals (proteins) is the result of the physical environment that exists in a buoyancy free, diffusion-dominated solution—specifically that: 1) slower crystal growth rates may be due to slower protein transport to the growing crystal surface, and 2) predilection of growing crystals to incorporate protein monomers versus higher protein aggregates is due to differences in transport rates. Improved understanding of fluid dynamics and reaction kinetics in microgravity will improve mathematical models of protein crystal growth that will promote utilization of the ISS for drug discovery.


    Dr. Daniel Batcheldor, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL

    This external platform experiment will test a charge injection device (CID) in the harsh environment of space. The charge injection device was originally developed for use in semiconductor memory chips nearly 50 years ago, but the technology has advanced and now has application as a sensor for both Earth and space. A CID sensor can be used in astronomy experiments to directly image exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) and the distant stars they orbit. Directly imaging exoplanets is extremely difficult because the light reflected from the planets may be billions of times dimmer than the stars they orbit, and the light from the star saturates the image. Additional uses of the CID may also include Earth observation applications for environmental and defense monitoring, such as imaging faint objects on the surface of the Earth in or near a bright city or on the surface of the ocean glinting sunlight. If proven successful, this sensor will offer a novel approach to differentiating objects in high-and-low contrast image collection scalable to large aperture space telescopes, airborne and undersea search and rescue, and NASA exploration.


    Dr. Edward Snell, Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute, Buffalo, NY

    This investigation seeks to validate the hypothesis that growth rate dispersion could be an indicator of protein crystal quality that can be manipulated in microgravity to improve crystal formation. Growth rate dispersion is a phenomenon encountered in crystallization in which seemingly identical crystals, produced from the same conditions, grow at different rates. It has been argued that protein crystal growth in microgravity may improve the quality of the crystals compared to those grown on Earth because the rate of crystal formation on the ground is more variable than that in microgravity. Protein crystal growth is a foundational element of R&D on the ISS for drug discovery, drug formulation, drug delivery, and disease modeling.


    Dr. Anita Goel, Nanobiosym Diagnostics (Funded by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center as part of the Galactic Grant Competition), Cambridge, MA

    This investigation will explore the ability of computational algorithms to predict mutations in the genes of pathogenic bacteria grown in microgravity. Many species of bacteria have evolved resistance to one or more of the antibiotics used to treat common infections. Some of these bacteria, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), may develop resistance to multiple antibiotics that make infections by them difficult to eradicate, especially in hospitals and nursing homes. This proof-of-concept experiment will provide data that can be applied to future predictive models for the evolution of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, which will be of significant value to antibiotic drug development.


    Dr. Rasha Hammamieh, US Army Center for Environmental Health Research, District of Columbia

    This project is part of a broader effort to understand the effects of spaceflight on tissue healing. Previous studies suggest that microgravity impairs the wound healing process, and microgravity has been shown to have negative effects on skin health in astronauts. This project seeks to identify the molecular foundations of cutaneous (skin) wound healing that are vulnerable to spaceflight-induced stress, potentially revealing biologically relevant pathways for the next generation of wound healing therapies. Ultimately, this could provide a new treatment approach for the more than 30% of the patient population that do not respond to current therapeutic options for chronic non-healing wounds. This project will also mark the first time a comprehensive systems biology approach has been used to understand the impact of spaceflight on wound healing.


About CASIS and the ISS US National Lab Partnership with NASA

CASIS & The ISS National Lab

Advancing Research in Space for the Benefit of Earth

In 2011 the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was appointed to be the sole manager of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. The mission of CASIS is to maximize use of this unparalleled platform for innovation, which can benefit all humankind and inspire a new generation to look to the stars.

The organization has been awarded by NASA the responsibility of inciting the imagination of entrepreneurs and scientists alike, accelerating and facilitating space-based research as well as creating public awareness of National Lab research and making space science more accessible to the world.

By carefully selecting research and funding projects, by connecting investors looking for opportunity to scientists with great ideas, and by making access to the station faster and easier, CASIS will drive scientific inquiry toward developing groundbreaking new technologies and products that will tangibly affect our lives.

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