If all “systems are go” Monday, SpaceX mission CRS-18 will lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with research technology developed in Indiana. Greenville-based Techshot Inc. provided NASA with the Multi-use Variable-gravity Platform (MVP) to conduct a series of experiments. The flight was originally scheduled for Sunday.
The un-manned mission is headed to the International Space Station. According to Techshot spokesman Rich Boling, researchers aboard the ISS will use two MVP units to conduct multiple experiments, including manufacturing human tissue in space. Boling says researchers have had success with 3D printing of bones and cartilage on Earth, but the manufacturing of soft human tissue, like muscle, has been more difficult. “On Earth, when attempting to print with soft, easily flowing biomaterials, tissues collapse under their own weight – resulting in little more than a puddle. But if these same materials are produced in the microgravity environment of space, the 3D-printed structures will maintain their shapes.”
Another experiment will look at how organisms adapt to the environment of space. Researchers will grow bacteria. The MVP will allow scientists to observe the evolution of Bacillus subtillis bacteria in microgravity.
NASA says microbes can be both a hazard and a potential tool for human space exploration and future life-support systems.
This is not the first mission for Techshot’s MVP. Learn about a mission this past May here where scientists studied the structure and function of human tissues such as the lungs, liver, heart, and bone.The unit was also used on a mission in April where researchers used MVP to study the growth of vegetables.