The first operational commercial crew mission will not only bring astronauts to the International Space Station but also kick off some unique science experiments for the crew to work on.
The Crew Dragon capsule carrying four astronauts on SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission for NASA is expected to lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday evening (Sat. 14), and you can watch coverage live at Space.com or on NASA TV. Participating crewmembers on the six-month flight are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
Some of the experiments that the Crew-1 astronauts will tackle involve microbe-eating rocks, tests of key parts for future spacesuits and a student genetics project. A partial list of the mission’s experiments is below.
Live updates: SpaceX’s Crew-1 astronaut launch for NASA
Food Physiology: Floating around for a few months can change a spaceflyer’s immune system. The Food Physiology experiment will therefore examine how dietary changes to orbiting astronauts can change or enhance their immune function, along with the “microbiome” (microbe composition) of their guts. The overall goal of the experiment is to improve spaceflight diet and crew health. The study is ongoing, and Crew-1 will bring resupply hardware to space for more work. During the Crew-1 mission, Glover is scheduled to collect biological samples of his body as a participant in the experiment.
Genes in Space-7: This student experiment, from Finsam Samson and Yujie Wang at Troy High School in Troy, Michigan, was one of the winning selections from the Genes in Space competition for students in Grades 7 to 12. The duo will study how brain function changes during spaceflight, with an aim to better help astronauts do their work on long-duration missions on the space station, the moon and other deep-space destinations.
SERFE and spacesuits: NASA is already thinking ahead to its next moon spacesuit, called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU). Unlike the current NASA EMU used for spacewalks outside the orbiting lab, the newer generation of spacesuit will use water evaporation to remove heat from an astronaut’s body and to maintain a safe temperature during spacewalks. A key element of this system is the Spacesuit Water Membrane Evaporator, which is already aboard the station and will be tested on simulated spacewalks during the Crew-1 mission via the Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight Experiment. The investigation will conduct 25 simulated eight-hour spacewalks to see how well the garment and technology work in space.
Plant Habitat-02: The ISS is gaining a reputation for its various orbiting gardens, and Crew-1 will add to previous research with lettuce, flowers and other plants. A recent commercial resupply mission from Northrop Grumman’s…