SpaceX’s Dragon resupply spacecraft will leave the International Space Station (ISS), carrying over 4,000 pounds of scientific experiments and other cargo, on Monday, April 6. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 9:30 a.m. EDT, the company announced on Thursday.
Robotic flight controllers at mission control in Houston will issue commands at 9:52 a.m. to release Dragon using the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. NASA Expedition 62 Flight Engineer, Drew Morgan, will back up the ground controllers and monitor Dragon’s systems as it leaves the orbital laboratory.
The spacecraft will transport scientific investigations to Earth, including generating a nutritional meal, toward printing human organs in space and helping the heart. The nutritional meal experiment has examined ways to supply food for a multi-year mission on the Moon or Mars may require making food and nutrients in space.
BioNutrients has demonstrated a technology that enables on-demand production of nutrients needed during long-duration space missions. Although designed for space, this system also could help provide nutrition for people in remote areas of our planet.
The printing human organs in space will look into the biological printing of the tiny, complex structures found inside human organs, such as capillaries, which are difficult in Earth’s gravity. The BioFabrication Facility (BFF) has attempted to take the first steps toward the printing of human organs and tissues in microgravity
The Engineered Heart Tissues (EHTs) study has examined how human heart tissue functions in space. It uses unique 3D tissues made from heart cells derived from human-induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (hiPSCs), essentially adult stem cells.
Researchers expect significant differences in function, structure and gene expression between EHTs in microgravity and those on the ground. Understanding these differences could help them find ways to prevent or mitigate problematic changes on future long-duration missions.
For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. As a global endeavor, 239 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries.