SpaceX rocket launches from Florida to study tissue chips


Christian Melendez

On Friday morning, the twenty-third of April, a SpaceX rocket launched from Florida, carrying four passengers. These astronauts are on their way to the International Space Station, and arrived on the twenty-fourth of April. While the astronauts have plenty that they’ll be doing, one of the main purposes of their trip is to study something that scientists call “tissue chips.” The astronauts will be staying in space for six months. 


Each astronaut was brought together for this mission from different countries. First, there are the two experienced astronauts from NASA named Shane Kimbourough and Megan Mcarthur, and then there are the two new recruits, Thomas Pesquet from France, and Akihiko Hoshide from Japan. The astronauts are on a capsule nicknamed “Endeavour”, which was last used to carry astronauts in May 2020. 


As for the tissue chips that the astronauts will be working on, these devices are important to human health. Tissue chips are synthetic pieces designed on parts of the human body. Scientists hope these chips will be used to replace body parts in humans that no longer function correctly. These tissue chips have test samples of human DNA that behave similarly to the real version, and for now, NASA hopes that this study will advance the development of vaccines and drugs. Scientific studies on the human body have occurred for years aboard the ISS, and this will only stack on top of all of the research that came before it. Scientists have high hopes for what is to come from this study. 


Why do these tissue chips need to travel all the way to the ISS to be studied? Scientists want to test them in a microgravity environment. They hypothesize that observing the tissue chips in this kind of environment will help them form a basic understanding for how they work, before then observing them back in the natural world. 


The astronauts have much to look forward to on their expedition, and their research on these tissue chips could benefit the lives of many people in the future. In six months, the world will see the results.