Press Release

Space Florida ISS Research Competition Winners to Fly 3/16 on SpaceX CRS-3

By SpaceRef Editor
March 10, 2014
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Space Florida ISS Research Competition Winners to Fly 3/16 on SpaceX CRS-3

Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority and aerospace development organization, and NanoRacks LLC, a designer and manufacturer of microgravity research platforms, are pleased to announce that two of the seven winners of the Space Florida International Space Station (ISS) Research Competition are scheduled to launch their payloads to the ISS onboard SpaceX CRS-3 (Commercial Resupply Services, Mission 3), from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 16, 2014. The two NanoLabs holding these payloads will fly inside the SpaceX Dragon capsule being launched on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, version 1.1.

The two projects heading to the ISS are:

  1. HEART FLIES (Ohio State University, Stanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and NASA Ames Research Center)
  2. Project MERCCURI (University of California-Davis, and

The HEART FLIES (Heart Effect Analysis Research Team conducting Fly Investigations and Experiments in Spaceflight) payload will be studying the effects of spaceflight on the function, morphology and gene expression in fruit fly hearts. These results are part of an effort to understand the cardiovascular effects of spaceflight on humans and provide improved countermeasures and treatments for future astronauts. The research is being led by Dr. Peter H. Lee, Dr. Sharmila Bhattacharya, Dr. Rolf Bodmer and Dr. Karen OIorr.

The Project MERCCURI team (Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen & University Researchers) has been gathering microbial samples at a variety of public venues around the country including football and basketball games, as well as sites of historic interest. Microbes from those swab samples will be delivered to the ISS and the growth/behavior of these microbes will be compared with duplicate cultures in Earth-based labs. Additionally, crewmembers will take swap samples on the ISS, which will be analyzed to understand the microbial community present on Station. Leading scientists on this project include Dr. Jonathan Eisen, Dr. David Coil, Dr. Jenna Lang, Mr. Russell Neches, Ms. Wendy Brown, Ms. Darlene Cavalier and Mr. Mark Severance.

The Space Florida ISS Research Competition was designed to inspire innovation as well as provide unique research opportunities and access to the ISS. The remaining five (5) winners of the ISS Research Competition are scheduled for launch to the ISS on SpaceX CRS-4, currently scheduled for launch on July 25, 2014 from Cape Canaveral. 

Winners of the Space Florida ISS Research Competition were selected by an independent panel of 14 judges representing a variety of NASA centers, renowned national academic institutions, payload developers and commercial companies with interest in microgravity research. Judges reviewed proposals based on their potential for developing ‘breakthroughs’ in basic research on materials, biology and the environment, as well as fostering a greater understanding of complex drugs and remedies to improve life on Earth. 

 “Working with these leading edge universities and research groups to help get their experiments to space is an exciting opportunity for us,“ said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “These individuals represent the future of microgravity research and help us to fulfill the true value of our orbiting National Lab on the ISS.”

“We are appreciative of Space Florida for providing this opportunity for others to participate in innovative space research,” said NanoRacks Managing Director Jeff Manber. “The ISS Research Competition is a fantastic model for how space research can be set up quickly and efficiently. NanoRacks is pleased to partner with companies like Space Florida and do what we can to lower the costs and challenges for these teams to get to the Space Station.”

To learn more about the winning projects, visit


SpaceRef staff editor.