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PharmaSat 1 is the first mission in NASA MicroSat Free Flyer (µSat-FF) Project, a progressive, 4 mission, 5 year effort that is targeted towards developing and demonstrating autonomous nanosatellite space platforms and technologies to support multidisciplinary science investigations.
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- NASA's PharmaSat nanosatellite successfully launched at 7:55 p.m. EDT Tuesday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at Wallops Island, Va. PharmaSat rode to orbit aboard a four-stage Air Force Minotaur 1 rocket. Also aboard were the Air Force Research Laboratory's TacSat-3 satellite and other NASA CubeSat Technology Demonstration experiments, which include three four-inch cubed satellites developed by universities and industry. PharmaSat will investigate the effects of antifungal agents on the growth of yeast in microgravity. This research could improve understanding of how microbes may become resistant to the drugs used to treat sick astronauts on long-duration space missions.
PharmaSat will build upon the extensive technology development program and recent flight heritage of GeneSat-1. GeneSat-1 combined innovative miniaturization and integration strategies with recent developments in microfluidics and optics in a robust free-flying satellite, self-powered and weighing under 5 kg, that provided life-support, growth, monitoring, and analysis capabilities for microorganisms. Retrofitting GeneSat-
1 to save significant cost and schedule, PharmaSat will accomplish five critical functions in an autonomous free-flyer platform: 1. Provide life support and environmental control for growth of the yeast strain in 48 independent microwells 2. Dose the growing yeast with antifungal agent at the appropriate point on the growth curve with three distinct, well-defined dosage levels, plus a zero-dose control
3. Track the population of the yeast via optical density of each microwell before, during and after antifungal administration
4. Determine well-by-well yeast viability at multiple, well-defined times after antifungal administration using a colorimetric reagent, Alamar Blue
5. Telemeter the resulting population and viability data to Earth, along with system status data.