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NanoRacks Delivers UAE Science Experiments To ISS For Upcoming Emirati Astronaut Mission

ISS, courtesy NASA
ISS, courtesy NASA.

The 18th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from SpaceX delivered a historic mission for NanoRacks. NanoRacks, the leading provider of commercial access to low-Earth orbit, transported the materials for the science experiments that will be conducted by the first Emirati astronaut upon his arrival to the International Space Station (ISS) in late September 2019.

NanoRacks also launched the first-ever microgravity experiment from Young Living – the world-leader in essential oils, amongst other educational research. Collectively, this amounts to NanoRacks’ single largest mission to the Space Station to date.

In April 2019, NanoRacks announced an agreement with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to empower and encourage youth in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to take an interest in space science. In coordination with NanoRacks, MBRSC launched the ‘Science in Space’ competition, an initiative under the umbrella of the UAE Astronaut Program, where schools were able to apply to participate in conducting scientific experiments to study the impact of microgravity.

In total, MBRSC is flying 32 student experiments to the Space Station via NanoRacks. These experiments are in NanoRacks’ MixStix, Flasks, and Petri Dishes, and are studying everything from sand and steel to corn oil, egg whites, cement, yeast, E.coli, and more.

Simultaneously, NanoRacks is flying two experiments in coordination with the UAE Space Agency, United Arab Emirates University, and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). These include a MixStix studying oil emulsification and a custom flask in which a palm date seed native to the UAE will be germinated, one of the first experiments of its kind.

“The palm tree experiment truly sums up our efforts with the UAE. For the first time, the UAE as a nation is being represented on the Space Station – so what would be more appropriate than to germinate and grow seeds that has come directly from the Emirates?” says NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber.

“This palm tree is something for every student, parent, citizen, and friend of the UAE to celebrate. All of us at NanoRacks appreciate the growing relationship with our colleagues in the Emirates.”

“We are delighted to be working with NanoRacks to conduct advanced microgravity experiments abroad the ISS,” said His Excellency Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency.

“Palm trees are deeply rooted in our nation’s heritage and capable of thriving in harsh environments, which inspired us to launch the Palm in Space project and attempt to germinate a palm seed in space. This project, as well as the Tests in Orbit competition and its winning oil emulsification experiment, are in line with the UAE Space Agency’s mission to support space research and develop regional and international partnerships within the space sector.”

NanoRacks is also flying the first-ever Space Station experiment for Young Living – the world leader in essential oils. Young Living is studying the effects of exposure to the extraterrestrial environment on plant seeds and essential oils. Specifically, researchers are germinating lavender and goldenrod seeds in to the space environment to then grow them to maturity on the ground and extract essential oils. Genetic analysis and the composition of the essential oils will be compared to those from controls kept on the ground.

Also on SpaceX-18 is the 13th Mission for the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), as a part of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE). NanoRacks, in coordination with their sister company, DreamUp, is flying 41 student experiments for SSEP Mission 13, representing schools from 18 states and three countries. Over 23,000 students were engaged in the experiment design process of this program, from proposals to finalist selection. A full list of experiments can be found here.

Lastly, also in coordination with DreamUp, a team of students from SCVi, iLEAD’s founding school are experimenting as to whether black coffee kills a type of bacteria found in everyday plaque on teeth in microgravity in the same way it does on Earth. Specifically, the students are experimenting on Death Wish Coffee, “the world’s strongest coffee,” in a NanoRacks MixStix.

“This is a Space Station mission like no other,” concluded Manber. “The amount of work our team put into this mission is unprecedented, and yet we are just at the cusp of showing the true possibilities of what can be done on the International Space Station. Thanks always to our friends at NASA for working with us as we continue to push the boundaries of the world’s most robust orbiting laboratory.”

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