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MISSION/STUDY INFORMATION

Mission or Study ID:   SpaceX_18
Program:
International Space Station (ISS)
Spacecraft/Location:
Dragon
Launch/Start Date:
07/25/2019
Landing/End Date:
08/27/2019
Duration:
32 days 22 hours

Description
SpaceX CRS-18, also known as SpX-18, was SpaceX's 18th flight to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services program for NASA. It was launched on 25 July 2019 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

Research Highlights:
Cell Science-02: CS-02 is a space flight experiment that will research the effects of microgravity on cultures of osteoblasts, which are cells that form new bone tissue. The investigation will study the effects of two different bone stimulating factors on the growth, differentiation, and cellular functions of osteoblasts in cell culture, as well as on their communication with surrounding cells. CS-02 scientists hypothesize that the two different bone stimulating factors will differentially impact the way osteoblasts specialize into different cells in microgravity and on Earth. The information gained from the CS-02 study will assist scientists who are developing therapies for bone loss. In the spaceflight environment, bone density loss is one of the major health risks faced by astronauts. On Earth, osteoporosis affects hundreds of millions of people, leading to bone density loss and an increased risk of fracture. The results of this experiment could lead to new countermeasures against bone loss and new treatments for damaged bones, helping both astronauts in space and people here on Earth.

Micro 15: The Micro-15 life science research mission will study the effects of spaceflight on the differentiation of mammalian induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). IPSCs are a type of pluripotent stem cell, which means that they can transform into any other cell type in the body. IPSCs are generated in the lab from adult cells and could potentially be utilized for patient-specific regenerative medical therapies, in which a patient’s own cells are used to generate replacements for cells lost to damage or disease. This technology has not advanced to the level where it can be safely applied to humans so scientists would need to explore iPSCs further before adopting this cell growth technology for human health. From past flight and ground-based experiments, it is known that microgravity influences gene expression, cell proliferation, and differentiation in stem cells. However, it is not clearly understood how microgravity influences these processes. This study will address the knowledge gap by growing iPSCs in microgravity on the ISS and could lead to new clinical uses or therapies and better health for both humans on Earth and astronauts on long-duration space explorations.

MVP-Cell-02: The MVP Cell-02 mission is a study aimed at understanding how organisms evolve to adapt to the harsh space environment. During the experiment, Bacillus subtilis bacteria will be grown in specially designed environmental hardware and will be housed in the Multi-use Variable-g Platform (MVP) in a range of conditions, allowing researchers to investigate whether the adaptation process occurs differently in microgravity and in the spaceflight environment as a whole. Bacillus subtilis is an ideal model organism for spaceflight studies. It is well studied on the ground and its genome has been completely sequenced. It grows and reproduces rapidly, allowing researchers to grow thousands of generations – and view evolution in action – in just a few weeks. Because bacterial cells are so small, huge numbers of bacteria can be grown in small spaces, allowing researchers to design experiments with many replicates that can pick up even subtle differences between experimental treatments. Information gained from thisexperiment will help researchers understand the effects of the spaceflight environment on microbial evolutionary processes. This is essential because microbes are both potential hazards and potential tools for human space exploration: while some microbes can be dangerous to human health, others could be central parts of future life-support systems. In either case, we need to understand how microbial evolution in space could influence the relationship between microbes and astronaut crews. In addition, on Earth, the results of this experiment will help advance basic research in microbiology and evolutionary biology.

Rodent Research 17: RR-17 employs younger and older mice as model organisms to evaluate the physiological, cellular and molecular effects of the spaceflight environment. Some responses to spaceflight in humans and model organisms such as mice resemble accelerated aging. This investigation provides a better understanding of aging-related immune, bone, and muscle disease processes, which may lead to new therapies for use in space and on Earth. 

Experiments on this Mission