Particle physics experiments

An Israeli astronaut will test these 35 experiments in space

Clean meat grown in microgravity conditions, a vest that protects against radiation and technology that combats neuro-ocular syndrome associated with spaceflight (visual impairment, intracranial pressure, long space missions) are among the 35 Israeli experiments having received final approval to head to the International Space Station with Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe on the Rakia mission.

The list of experiments was finalized by the Ramon Foundation, the Israel Space Agency and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, which are helping to send Israel’s second astronaut on this historic space mission.

Stibbe is due to take off for the mission in late March, where he will test dozens of Israeli technologies and science experiments to advance Israel’s space industry and achieve technological, scientific and medical breakthroughs, the ministry said Monday.

The Israeli businessman and former fighter pilot is expected to be the country’s second astronaut after Ilan Ramon, who perished in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident.

Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe. Photo by Ori Burg.

The Rakia (Sky in Hebrew) mission is part of Axiom Space Ax-1, the world’s first mission to the Space Station entirely manned by private astronauts. Stibbe will tentatively travel aboard a SpaceX Dragon on March 31, 2022. He will accompany Mission Commander Michael López-Alegría, Ax-1 mission investor and pilot Larry Connor, and researcher and philanthropist Mark Pathy.

The 35 experiments that will be carried out by Stibbe during the week-long mission were chosen from among 44 Israeli research projects selected last May in the first stage through a technology and science committee. More than 70% of experiments reached the finish line and met all defined criteria, including NASA approvals, timeliness, secured funding, and engineering design goals.

The selected projects reflect a wide range of science and technology categories, including medicine, astrophysics, ophthalmology, radiation, food and agriculture, optics and communications.

“This mission is an opportunity for breakthroughs in dozens of Israeli technologies and science experiments in space, a chance to advance education and the arts in Israel,” the Ramon Foundation said on the official website of the Rakia mission.

Bar Ilan University announced that the vision technology used and modified by Bar Ilan University professors and others to help astronauts combat neuro-ocular syndrome is one of 35 experiments directed at space.

AstroRad
Dana Vaisler modeling the AstroRad Vest. Courtesy of Ran Yehezkel / StemRad

Professor Uri Polat, Director of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and Professor Yossi Mandel, Director of the Ophthalmic Science and Engineering Laboratory, with Dr. Eran Schenker, Director of Medical Innovation at the ‘Israel Aerospace Medicine Institute, and the Polat team, modified digital tablet software technology to monitor the vision of astronauts during space missions. The technology was provided by the American-Israeli company Cortex Therapeutics Inc. (GlassesOff), a clinical-stage digital health company focused on developing and commercializing digital prescription therapies for patients with age-related diseases including presbyopia, myopia, AMD and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

“The technology is based on an application that can be downloaded to any tablet. During Eytan Stibbe’s time in space, we’ll examine his vision from a distance and understand when changes occur. The results will allow us to draw conclusions about neuro-visual damage in space and could be a breakthrough in treatment,” Polat said.

“Vision is a very important function in our life and in space missions. We are proud to be part of this collective effort and to contribute our knowledge and solutions to improve future space missions,” Polat told NoCamels.

The AstroRad radiation vest is also tested on the mission. Co-developed by Israeli startup StemRad and US aerospace company Lockheed Martin, the vest is personal protective equipment for astronauts beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) that substantially reduces death induced by exposure to radiation (REID) like cancer while eliminating the possibility of acute radiation syndrome (ARS) due to solar particles (SPE.)

Stibbe will test the AstroRad vest in microgravity conditions and assess comfort and range of motion, providing critical feedback to ensure it will be fit for use on future trips.

The health of astronauts is of the utmost importance during the Rakia mission and future space missions to come. One of the experiments, using technology provided by the Israeli company Healthy.io, will perform urinalysis and urine screening for medical purposes. The firm Healthy.io has developed an FDA-approved smartphone application that allows users to take urinalysis tests at home.

The three steps of collecting urine for analysis by Healthy.io. Courtesy: Rakiamission.co.il

X-trodes, an Israeli company that has developed a wearable smart tech product that measures and analyzes electrophysiological signals for better sleep, will conduct in-depth monitoring of pilots’ flight patterns in space, pre-launch and post-return on earth . The company will use its Advanced Home Sleep Monitoring device, which contains artificial skin sensors with wearable technology for analyzing sleep stages. The results will help assess emotional stress levels and possible sleep disturbances.

food in space

There will be a number of experiments dealing with food and farming that will be part of the Rakia mission. During the mission, Stibbe will study the effect of gravity on the ability of cow cells to differentiate into cells that make up muscle tissue, which are the building blocks of a cultured steak created by the Israeli meat company. own Aleph Farms. The Israeli company has developed a technological platform for the production of clean meat based on this process. The company first conducted a successful test on the International Space Station in September 2019, where it successfully assembled meat tissue using three-dimensional bioprinting. The study during the Rakia mission will advance Aleph’s ability to develop a complete cultured meat process for long-term space missions and help build an efficient manufacturing process that reduces the environmental footprint on Earth.

Aleph Farms creates cultured meat with proprietary technology.  Photo: Aleph Farms
Aleph Farms creates cultured meat with proprietary technology. Courtesy

A study on the feasibility of germinating hummus by growing chickpeas under microgravity conditions will also be conducted during the week-long mission. “The study will be led by Dr. Yonatan Winetraub, one of the founders of SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that attempted to land Israel’s Beresheet, the first private interplanetary robotic mission, on the Moon on April 11, 2019. Scientists and engineers from Israel and Stanford University, the Moon2Mars Ventures team, D-Mars and students from Yeruham Science Center will also participate in the study.

In recent months, Stibbe has been conducting an intensive training program at NASA and SpaceX facilities to prepare him for his time on the International Space Station.

“The scientific part of the Rakia mission is of enormous importance to me – the experiments I will carry out will help dozens of Israeli researchers to advance their important work, to engage in sustainability for the benefit of life on Earth, to help Israel’s space industry to integrate into the world, public and commercial industry and propel it forward,” Stibbe said in a statement. “I hope to influence the sons and daughters of the younger generation – future scientists. The experiments I will do will be accessible to children of all ages, hoping to inspire them to do scientific work in various fields, such as medicine, agriculture, physics, etc.

Eytan Stibbe
Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe trains for the upcoming Rakia mission. Photo by Ori Burg/SpaceX

“The field of global space is undergoing a real revolution. The market has doubled in size over the past decade and is expected to reach a trillion dollar value in the coming years. It is a joy and a blessing that in the Rakia mission, important experiments are being carried out that will advance the Israeli space industry and Israeli and global science,” said Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Israeli Minister of Innovation, of Science and Technology.

The final list of experiments was announced just ahead of the 17th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference on Tuesday, a hybrid event that brought together leaders and experts from around the world to discuss, tackle and plan the future of the space industry.