Space Stations

NG-18 Mission to Space Station Will Include Research on Mudslides and Heart Cells, a New Bioprinter, and More

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 24, 2022
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NG-18 Mission to Space Station Will Include Research on Mudslides and Heart Cells, a New Bioprinter, and More
Northrop Grumman Cygnus Approaches ISS

Mudslides from forest fires cause catastrophic damage in their wake, and research aimed at predicting and possibly preventing them will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard Northrop Grumman’s 18th Commercial Resupply Services mission (NG-18).

This is one of more than 20 investigations sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory flying on this mission. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, named after former NASA astronaut Sally Ride for this mission, will also carry a next-generation 3D bioprinter that aims to print human tissues in space and seven projects funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

These payloads and others sponsored by the ISS National Lab will launch on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia no earlier than 5:50 a.m. EST on November 6, 2022. More than 800 pounds of supplies, research, and technology demonstrations are flying on this mission, enabling commerce in low Earth orbit and providing value to our nation through space-based inquiries.

Below are highlights of a few ISS National Lab-sponsored payloads traveling to the space station on NG-18:

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego will look at how burned soil, which cannot readily absorb water after a wildfire, reacts with air and water in microgravity. This represents one of seven projects funded by NSF flying on this mission. The team will use the data to create a baseline of material behaviors that can help better predict and possibly even prevent mudflows by stabilizing soil, thereby protecting life and property in the communities they affect.

Also funded by NSF is an investigation from Emory University that aims to use microgravity to speed up the growth of cardiac muscle cells derived from human stem cells. Results could eventually lead to breakthroughs in replacing damaged cells in patients with heart disease, in addition to improved disease modeling and the development of more effective heart medications.

In an exciting update to a technology demonstration that first launched in 2019, Redwire Space (NYSE: RDW) will validate its next-generation BioFabrication Facility, or BFF, in an effort to bioprint human cells and tissues in the absence of gravity. The team at Redwire Space believes microgravity will allow these delicate tissues to mature and strengthen without the use of scaffolding, instead of collapsing under their own weight like they do on Earth. This second, updated version of the BFF is another important step in regenerative medicine that could lead to effective ways to print new tissues and organs in space for patients who need them on Earth (and beyond).

A technology demonstration from Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment Corp. aims to bring both space and Earth into sharper focus for an eye-opening immersive experience that ignites the imagination and dreams of space. In the first of three missions, investigators will test a new ultra-wide lens on the highest-resolution single-sensor camera available to evaluate how it works in the harsh conditions of space outside the ISS. Data gathered will shape the design of cameras built by MSG Entertainment that will capture images on future missions that will light up LED screens inside the new MSG Sphere, currently under construction in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday, October 25 at 11:00 a.m. EDT, NASA will host a science telecon open to members of the media to learn about the projects launching on the NG-18 mission. Multiple ISS National Lab-sponsored project investigators, along with a representative from NSF, will be a part of this conversation, highlighting the diversity of experimentation taking flight on this mission.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.