3D Bioprinting and CubeSats Top Tuesday’s Science Schedule

The Moon's shadow, or umbra, is pictured from the space station as it orbited into the path of the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
The Moon’s shadow, or umbra, is pictured from the space station as it orbited into the path of the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

Advanced space biology and CubeSat work topped the research schedule aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday. The Expedition 71 crew also continued its cargo work and lab maintenance to keep the orbital outpost in tip-top shape.

Scientists are taking advantage of the weightless environment to learn how to print 3D cardiac tissue samples. NASA Flight Engineers Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick took turns operating the BioFabrication Facility, swapping cassettes containing the bio-printed samples inside the device, then processing the samples for incubation. The tissue-engineering study that takes place inside the Columbus laboratory module may offer the ability to print food and medicines for future space crews. Results may also enable the bioprinting of replacement organs and tissues potentially alleviating the shortage of donor organs on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Jeanette Epps was on her second day of installing a small satellite orbital deployer inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock. Three CubeSats are packed into the device and will soon be deployed into Earth orbit for a variety of communications and technology studies. Afterward, Epps partnered with Dyson and NASA astronaut Mike Barratt transferring cargo in and out of the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft.

Barratt began his day transferring spacewalking tools to the station’s Roscosmos segment before working on orbital plumbing duties. During the afternoon, the three-time station resident refilled the water supply inside the rodent research habitat located in the Destiny laboratory module. The mice living inside the biology device are being observed for a study testing a gene therapy to improve eye health in space.

Cosmonaut Nikolai Chub collected and stowed the spacewalking tools from Barratt. Those tools are being readied for a Roscosmos spacewalk planned for April 25. Afterward, he worked on life support tasks inside the Progress 86 resupply ship and the Zarya and Zvezda modules.

Fellow cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin inspected video gear and an oxygen generator then scanned surfaces inside Zvezda with an ultrasound device. Station Commander Oleg Kononenko continued inspection activities inside Zvezda and the Progress 87 resupply ship. He also attached sensors and electrodes to himself and jogged on a treadmill for a periodic fitness test.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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