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Science in Space!

Science in Space!

What science is headed to the International
Space Station with Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply launch? From investigations
that study magnetic cell culturing to crystal growth, let’s take a look…

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Orbital ATK is targeted to launch its Cygnus
spacecraft into orbit on April 18, delivering tons of cargo, supplies and
experiments to the crew onboard.

Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in
Microgravity Investigation

In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D.
Structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, which allows us
to better test the efficacy of a drug. This
experiment tests new antibody drug conjugates.

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These conjugates combine an immune-activating
drug with antibodies and target only cancer cells, which could potentially
increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and potentially reduce the
associated side-effects. Results from this investigation could help inform drug
design for cancer patients, as well as more insight into how microgravity
effects a drug’s performance.

Genes in Space

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The Genes in Space-2 experiment aims to understand how the regulation of telomeres (protective caps on the tips of chromosomes) can change during spaceflight. Julian Rubinfien, 16-year-old DNA scientist and now space researcher, is sending his experiment to space as part of this investigation. 

3-D Cell Culturing in Space

Cells cultured in space spontaneously grow in
3-D, as opposed to cells cultured on Earth which grow in 2-D, resulting in
characteristics more representative of how cells grow and function in living
organisms. The Magnetic
3-D Cell Culture for Biological Research in Microgravity investigation will
test magnetized cells and tools that may make it easier to handle cells and
cell cultures.

This could help investigators improve the
ability to reproduce similar investigations on Earth.

SUBSA

The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed
Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation was originally operated successfully aboard the
space station in 2002. 

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Although it has been updated with modernized software,
data acquisition, high definition video and communications interfaces, its
objective remains the same: advance our understanding of the processes involved
in semiconductor crystal growth. 

Space Debris

Out-of-function satellites, spent rocket
stages and other debris frequently reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where most of it
breaks up and disintegrates before hitting the ground. However, some larger
objects can survive. The Thermal
Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2)
investigation will study a new type of recording device that rides alongside of
a spacecraft reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, it will record
data about the extreme conditions it encounters, something scientists have been
unable to test on a large scale thus afar.

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Understanding what happens to a spacecraft as
it reenters the atmosphere could lead to increased accuracy of spacecraft
breakup predictions, an improved design of future spacecraft and the development
of materials that can resist the extreme heat and pressure of returning to Earth. 

IceCube CubeSat

IceCube,
a small satellite known as a CubeSat, will measure cloud ice using an
883-Gigahertz radiometer. Used to predict weather and climate models, IceCube
will collect the first global map of cloud-induced radiances. 

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The key objective
for this investigation is to raise the technology readiness level, a NASA
assessment that measures a technology’s maturity level.

Advanced Plant Habitat

Joining the space station’s growing list of
facilities is the Advanced
Plant Habitat, a fully enclosed, environmentally controlled plant habitat
used to conduct plant bioscience research. This habitat integrates proven
microgravity plant growth processes with newly-developed technologies to
increase overall efficiency and reliability. 

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The ability to cultivate plants
for food and oxygen generation aboard the space station is a key step in the
planning of longer-duration, deep space missions where frequent resupply
missions may not be a possibility.

Watch Launch!

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Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA)
are targeting Tuesday, April 18 for launch of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the
International Space Station. Liftoff is currently slated for 11 a.m. EST.

Watch live HERE.

You can also watch the launch live in 360! This will be the world’s first live 360-degree stream of a rocket launch. Watch the 360 stream HERE.

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