GREENVILLE, Ind., April 15, 2019 (TechShot PR) – With this week’s launch of the Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems uncrewed Cygnus cargo spacecraft on resupply mission NG-11 to the International Space Station, Techshot Inc., begins what is expected to be its most active year in space operations. The commercial space payload developer expects to launch its equipment to the station aboard every American resupply mission in 2019.
Onboard NG-11 will be 12 plant growth devices Techshot developed for NASA in partnership with Tupperware Brands. First launched to the station one year ago (see https://bit.ly/2U85OaK), PONDS, or the Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System, has been designed to help optimize the growth of plants, such as lettuce and tomatoes, while reducing the amount of time astronauts must dedicate to monitoring and watering them.
The launch of NG-11 marks the first return of PONDS to space following design revisions made by Techshot and Tupperware Brands that improve water management. NASA scientists will test the improvements by growing Outredgeous Romaine lettuce in PONDS for 21 days inside the space station’s two Vegetable Production Systems – otherwise known as the ‘Veggie’ facilities.
Also launching aboard NG-11 are components of a Techshot centrifuge facility called the MVP, or Multi-use Variable-gravity Platform. Two 390 mm centrifuge carousels, and the microwave oven-size housing in which they operate, will join a spare MVP door that Techshot previously launched to the station. Astronauts will assemble the elements and install the completed MVP unit 2 in an ISS-National Laboratory rack inside the Japanese Space Agency’s Kibo laboratory module. The identical MVP unit 1, launched in April 2018 (see https://bit.ly/2Us6pJu), remains in use in the U.S. space laboratory known as Destiny.
The Techshot MVP is a privately-owned and operated device designed to conduct research in space at varying gravity levels with a wide variety of sample types – such as tissue chips, plants, fish, cells, protein crystals, worms, flies and cement. It can produce artificial gravity in 0.1 g increments, up to a maximum of 2.0 g.
Besides MVP unit 1, Techshot’s X-ray machine for mice also is already aboard the station. With the addition of MVP unit 2 and PONDS, the company will have four of its professional-grade research devices in orbit as it ramps up its operations tempo this year. Its catalog of available space research and manufacturing equipment will further expand this summer when Techshot launches its BioFabrication Facility – the first American developed, owned and operated 3D bioprinter in space – aboard SpaceX resupply mission CRS-18.
And while Techshot did not build the station’s most advanced plant growth chamber, the Advanced Plant Habitat, it did earn a task-order contract last year to manage it through NASA’s Research, Engineering and Mission Integration Services contracting program. The company is responsible for mission integration, operations and sustaining engineering for the high-tech space greenhouse and is sending up a new environmental control system for it – rounding out the list of items on Techshot’s NG-11 manifest.
Northrop Grumman’s NG-11 mission is scheduled to lift off April 17 at 4:46 p.m. from pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a commercial space launch facility located at the southern tip of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia.
Founded in 1988, Techshot is one sense a dry goods merchant for the 21st century, providing the high tech picks and shovels that federal, institutional and industrial researchers use to make new discoveries in the life and physical sciences in space. Techshot handles all aspects of a research campaign for its customers. From the design and manufacture of spaceflight certified research hardware, to the integration of the hardware and its science payload, the company is a one-stop solutions provider. Its Space Act Agreement with NASA permits the company to commercially operate its equipment aboard the station. Techshot is headquartered in Greenville, Indiana, and maintains an office at the Space Life Science Laboratory at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. http://www.Techshot.space.