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SpaceX CRS-22 to Launch Numerous Investigations Supported by Private-Sector Partners

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
May 27, 2021
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., May 25, 2021 (CASIS PR) – SpaceX plans to launch its 22nd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than June 3 at 1:29 p.m. EDT. This launch, contracted through NASA, will resupply the orbiting laboratory with critical research and supplies for the Expedition 65 crew that is presently in orbit. On this mission, the ISS U.S. National Laboratory is sponsoring more than a dozen payloads from diverse disciplines—all aiming to bring value to our nation and drive a robust and sustainable market in low Earth orbit.

Many of the investigations on this mission are being performed or funded by highly recognizable private-sector organizations. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) began management of the ISS National Lab in 2011, and since that time, more than 50% of the ISS National Lab research and development (R&D) portfolio represents investigations from commercial entities. Through private-sector utilization of the space station, companies can conduct R&D in ways not possible on Earth to develop new consumer products, enhance existing products, and better understand processes that further business models both on the ground and in low Earth orbit. Below highlights some of the ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations launching on SpaceX CRS-22 that are supported by private-sector partners.

Global consumer care company Colgate-Palmolive will launch the first private-sector oral health care investigation to the ISS. The project will use a microfluidic device developed by faculty in the College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in collaboration with oral microbiologists from Colgate-Palmolive and a payload specialist team from Teledyne Brown Engineering. The research team aims to identify the molecular characteristics of a healthy and diseased oral microbiome (a microbial community composed of different bacterial species) by cultivating oral bacterial biofilms growing on an enamel-type surface. The research team will study unique plaque pathologies in relation to oral health status, examine gravity’s effects on biofilm formation and oral dysbiosis (an imbalance in the oral microbial community), and compare responses to common oral care agents in an effort to create more effective products for consumers on Earth.

To minimize the water consumption used for cotton production, Target Corporation has funded a project from the University of Wisconsin to examine the response of cotton plants to the stress of microgravity and evaluate effects on growth and root behavior. This investigation seeks to better understand the genetics involved in root system development, which could lead to the production of cotton plants that use water more efficiently on Earth.

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company has a history of sending innovative research and development to the ISS. On this mission, the company will launch an investigation to examine the effects of gravity on the physical state and properties of freeze-dried pharmaceutical products. Results could help Lilly improve the chemical and physical stability of pharmaceutical products for patients on Earth.

For more information on all ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations launching on SpaceX CRS-22, please visit our mission overview page. To learn about the latest science and technology advancements happening onboard the ISS, register to attend the 2021 ISS Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC), which will be held virtually August 3-5. To register for free, go to go to

About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under cooperative agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit