Press Release

Melbourne School Experiment among NASA Cargo on Space Station

By SpaceRef Editor
January 13, 2014
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Melbourne School Experiment among NASA Cargo on Space Station

An experiment designed by West Shore Junior/Senior High School in Melbourne, Fla., is among the cargo that arrived at the International Space Station Sunday on the Orbital-1 cargo resupply mission.

Designed by students in grades 10-12, the experiment, entitled “A Study of How Microgravity Affects the Activity of Enzymes in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis using the Model of Papain and Gelatin,” is part of the NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Falcon II payload.

This experiment seeks to explore the reasons behind why people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, cannot break down the neurotransmitter glutamate. The inability causes the neurons to die and patients to lose control of voluntary muscles. The students selected a non-biological model to study this phenomenon, testing the effect of the enzyme papain (papaya extract) on the breakdown of proteins in gelatin by measuring the amount of protein remaining after the reaction.

Orbital-1 is NASA’s first contracted resupply mission to the space station by U.S. company Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft launched atop the company’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia on Jan. 9. Expedition 38 crew members captured the Orbital-1 Cygnus using the space station’s robotic arm at 6:08 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 12.

Orbital developed its Antares and Cygnus with NASA and successfully completed a test mission to the space station in September, enabling the first of eight planned contract resupply flights by the company. The capsule is scheduled to remain attached to the station through mid-January. It then will return for a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has had continuous human occupation since November 2000. In that time, it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about the Orbital-1 mission and the International Space Station, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.