GREENVILLE, Ind. (December 6, 2020 – Three Techshot-managed projects launched this morning aboard a SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Lifting off at 11:17 a.m. EST from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, the manifest for SpaceX mission CRS-21 includes a microgravity research investigation for a Techshot customer developing better treatments for osteoarthritis, and another that is studying molten aluminum aboard the station to help develop new in-space metal construction and repair techniques. Techshot’s third payload aboard CRS-21 is 1 kg of promotional items being sold to the public after the mission by a European startup company.
The Cartilage–Bone–Synovium Micro-Physiological System Investigation Using the Multi-use Variable-G Platform, more commonly referred to as the MVP Cell-06 investigation, will study the effects of spaceflight on musculoskeletal disease biology, specifically, post-traumatic osteoarthritis and bone loss using a tissue-on-a-chip cartilage-bone-synovium joint model. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis causes about 12 percent of osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, and ankle and is a common condition in otherwise healthy (young to middle-aged) individuals, affecting about 5.6 million people in the United States. This project represents a relevant human tissue-on-chip platform with the potential to provide several pharmacological treatment options for osteoarthritis patients. For more information about MVP Cell-06 see https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=8273. And https://images.nasa.gov/details-KSC-20201125-MH-CSH01_0001-CRS-21_Media_Bag_Filling-3264127
This is the second ISS U.S. National Laboratory investigation focused on this tissue-on-a-chip platform from the Grodzinsky Lab at MIT that resulted from a funding opportunity from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, one of the 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health. The MVP Cell-01 investigation launched last year aboard SpaceX CRS-17. For more information about MVP Cell-01 see https://www.issnationallab.org/blog/joint-jeopardy-mit-researchers-use-space-to-solve-the-chronic-pain-of-osteoarthritis/. Two Techshot-developed, owned and commercially operated MVP units, each with two internal centrifuges, permanently reside aboard the ISS. Today’s cargo resupply mission carries eight experiment modules that will be inserted into one of the MVP units by the crew for processing. At the conclusion of the experiment they will be removed and returned to Earth in the same Cargo Dragon capsule.
SpaceX CRS-21 also is carrying supplies for the BRazing of Aluminum alloys IN Space investigation, also known as SUBSA-BRAINS, which examines differences in capillary flow, interface reactions, and bubble formation during solidification of brazing alloys in microgravity. Brazing technology bonds similar materials (such as an aluminum alloy to aluminum) or dissimilar ones (such as aluminum alloy to ceramics) at temperatures above 450 °C. It is a potential tool for construction of human space habitats and manufactured systems as well as repair of damage from micrometeoroids or space debris. Brazing aboard the ISS will take place inside the Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) furnace, which Techshot manages under a contract with NASA.
Besides developing and operating space research and manufacturing equipment, Techshot also provides commercial companies with access to space for purely promotional purposes. Paris, France-based startup Toucan Space contracted with the company coordinate the flight of a 1kg package containing commemorative postcards, patches and stickers. The items are available for purchase by the public at are available for purchase on the Toucan Space website. https://www.toucanspace.com/space-flown-items/
Founded in 1988, Techshot develops, owns and commercially-operates in space a large catalog of its own microgravity research and manufacturing equipment – such as MVP, and its 3D BioFabrication Facility. Besides SUBSA, the company also manages NASA’s space-based PFMI research furnace, as well as the agency’s Advanced Plant Habitat, which just produced a bumper crop of space-grown radishes.
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