Nickelodeon, Goodyear among firms sending cargo to space station

By Paul Brinkmann
Tech company Techshot Inc. will send a BioFabrication Facility to the International Space Station to form human tissue. Photo courtesy of Techshot
Tech company Techshot Inc. will send a BioFabrication Facility to the International Space Station to form human tissue. Photo courtesy of Techshot

ORLANDO, Fla., July 9 (UPI) -- The next SpaceX rocket cargo mission from Florida to the International Space Station will carry a record number of payloads from private companies.

Among them are Goodyear, Nickelodeon, drugmaker AstraZeneca and nScrypt, an Orlando firm that is sending a 3D printer to space to make human tissue.


Nickelodeon, the first American television network for children, plans to send its play slime to the orbiting lab to educate students on the basic principles of fluid flow in low gravity versus normal gravity on Earth.

Most of the experiments headed to the space station are aimed at taking advantage of so-called weightless conditions.

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"The demand for space-based research and development continues to increase as companies look to take advantage of the unique environment on board the space station," said Kenneth Shields, International Space Station National Lab chief operating officer. "Payloads on this mission include investigations from Fortune 500 companies, startups and academic institutions."

The Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for liftoff at 7:32 p.m. on July 21. It will be the 18th operational mission for the SpaceX Dragon capsule to the station, known as CRS-18. It will carry 2,500 pounds of supplies and experiments on the way up, and 1,300 pounds on its return.


Better tires is the goal of Goodyear's experiment, which will explore ways to improve tire manufacturing and performance by creating silica fillers in microgravity, potentially yielding results not possible on Earth, according to NASA's mission description.

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AstraZeneca is sending its second payload to the space station, this time studying therapies to treat cancer and immune diseases.

There's even a soccer ball going up for athletic apparel and equipment company Adidas -- to spin it and test its aerodynamics.

The tissue printer is a collaboration between Orlando-based nScrypt and Indiana-based Techshot. Bones or cartilage have been easier to print using 3D devices than soft tissue like tiny veins in flesh because gravity immediately forces the the tissue to collapse.

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Equipment known as a BioFabrication Facility will be sent to the station to form the tissue and allow it to solidify before shipping it back to Earth.

According to NASA's mission description, the experiment "could serve as a first step toward achieving the ability to fabricate entire human organs in space."

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