SpaceX and NASA closed out last week with the successful launch of the Crew-2 mission. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carried four astronauts into low Earth orbit early Friday morning, and the following day, the Crew Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space Station. Now, the four astronauts who have just arrived at the ISS begin a six-month mission as part of the ISS Expedition 65 crew.
What does this mission entail? According to the ISS National Laboratory, the four astronauts who comprise Crew-2 – Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Akihiko Hoshide from JAXA, and Thomas Pesquet from the ESA – will be “supporting research investigations that will help push the limits of science and technology innovation in ways not possible on Earth.”
Several of the investigations the crew of Expedition 65 will undertake include tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research that will “leverage microgravity conditions for disease modeling that otherwise might take years to replicate on Earth.” The goal of these experiments is to bolster the quality of therapeutics used here on Earth and ultimately improve the quality of life for patients.
The ISS National Lab also says that a number of companies will be shipping investigations to the ISS over the next six months, with Eli Lilly and Company sending up experiments that will test the effects gravity has on freeze-dried pharmaceutical products. Colgate-Palmolive will be sending an investigation concerning oral health, specifically looking to “identify the molecular characteristics” of both healthy and diseased oral microbiomes. Finally, Target will be partnering with the ISS National Lab to conduct experiments centered around making cotton production and processing more environmentally sustainable.
It sounds like the crew of Expedition 65 is going to have their hands full over the next six months, because the ISS National Lab says that more than 50 payloads will be sent to the station, each with investigations and experiments for the crew to research. We’ll see the four astronauts of Crew-2 return to Earth on October 31st at the earliest aboard the Crew Dragon capsule they arrived to the ISS in.