The most recent series of payloads have berthed with the International Space Station (ISS) today onboard the Orbital ATK Cygnus capsule. Many of the investigations transported by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket and Cygnus capsule are payloads sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space is tasked with managing and promoting research onboard the ISS National Laboratory, and all manifested payloads must contain the potential for Earth benefits.

Below provides a summary of the major ISS National Laboratory-sponsored payloads delivered today:

Michael Snyder, Made In Space, Inc.

The Additive Manufacturing Facility will enable 3D-printing projects from commercial, educational, and government entities interested in the development of objects for experiments and technology demonstrations. The ability to create on-demand hardware through 3-D printing on the ISS will benefit crew and researchers interested in space-based R&D—as well as advancing the field of additive manufacturing, enabling systems that are more efficient and generate less waste on Earth. These objects will be produced onboard the ISS in a fraction of the time currently required to have such objects manifested and delivered to the station using traditional ground preparation and launch.

Michael Fortenberry, Southwest Research Institute

The mission objective of this project is to fly a visible spectroscopy instrument to the ISS National Laboratory for the primary purpose of observing meteors in Earth orbit. Project Meteor will provide a continuous monitor of meteor interaction with the Earth’s atmosphere without limitations of the ozone absorption. The resultant data will be the first such measurement of meteor flux and will allow for monitoring of carbon-based compounds. Investigation of meteor elemental composition is important to our understanding of how the planets developed.

On this launch, the ISS National Laboratory also supported a variety of investigations from NanoRacks, LLC, representing education payloads derived from an association with Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA as well as several commercial cube satellites. An example investigation from Valley Christian High School focuses on the crystallization of the SOD1 protein, which is linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Microgravity may enable the formation of larger, more perfect crystals that allow scientists to better determine a protein’s structure, potentially leading to new methods for treating this debilitating disease.

For an in depth look at various payloads on this mission, please view this video:

To learn more about the ISS, including past research and available hardware facilities, please visit: