Two Heads are Better than One?

Double-headed flatworm. 
Credit: Junji Morokuma, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University

That's right two heads are better than one, and in this case two heads have sparked more interest in microgravity research. Tufts researcher Michael Levin discusses the most recent findings on Flatworms' regenerative abilities when introduced to a space environment. Research suggests that the lack of gravity has encouraged the tested flatworms to grow two heads when cut into thirds - a very rare occurrence on Earth.

Microgravity poses as an underused environment that has proven to yield fascinating results. These flatworms are only one piece of the puzzle. This research is step towards better understanding regeneration for on-Earth applications in medicine and science. 

With new questions arising regarding these findings, Levin and his team are working towards a collaborative mission with Space Tango and Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation's Exomedicine Institute.

To learn more about Levin and his Flatworm research, check out this NPR Science Friday Interview with Michael Levin!



Space Tango Payloads & CRS-10 Mission

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver Space Tango payloads on Commercial Resupply Services - 10 (CRS-10) scheduled to launch on February 18th at 10:01:32 AM EST. Payloads will be installed in the TangoLab Facility on the International Space Station. CRS-10 is Space Tango’s first commercial opportunity to begin use of the facility hardware for researchers and customers.



The Microbial Methane Associated Research Strasbourg No. 1 (MMARS1) flight experiment is a commercial experiment led by Airbus DS in collaboration with its scientific partners the International Space University and the University of Strasbourg.  The purpose of this experiment is to study how a strain of methanogen, Methanosarcina barkeri, adapts to the stresses of the space environment, including microgravity and radiation, as a first step towards further studies related to relevant non-early applications of methanogen.  Specifically, the goals of the MMARS1 experiment include: 1) to demonstrate the use or pressure measurements to estimate metabolic activity of M. barkeri and the overall experimental approach; 2) to investigate decoupling of metabolic activity from biomass production; and 3) to study the growth of M. barkeri using liquid medium, including time of lag phase, growth rate, and time to stationary phase change under conditions of spaceflight.

> Contractile Properties of Smooth Muscle in Microgravity

The Contractile Properties of Smooth Muscle in Microgravity flight experiment is a research/educational experiment led by the Craft Academy in collaboration with its scientific parter - Morehead St. University - and its implementation partner Space Tango. The purpose of this experiment is to evaluate the involuntary cell contractions of aortic smooth muscle cells. Specifically, rat aorta smooth muscle cells - that show expression and promotor activity of several highly restricted smooth muscle cell markers - will be evaluated. The theory of contraction being proposed in this project is that the remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton, specifically that of a-action, is the contractile mechanism within smooth muscle cells, whereas the B-actin serves to maintain the cell's shape during contraction. If this contraction is observed in microgravity, then supporting or contradictory evidence of contractile cells and potential discoveries may be observed.

> ISSET Educational Endeavor No. 1

The International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) works in partnership with some of the world’s leading space organizations to deliver unique learning opportunities for students of all ages. For this project, ISSET has teamed up with the King’s College London to perform three educational projects:

  • Microbial Fuel Cell:

With space exploration aiming earnestly towards Mars, there are many ideas being discussed to help power the exploration and to utilize everything available within the spacecraft chosen. This experiment will show the usefulness of using microbes feeding on waste matter in a sealed environment to provide a power source to supplement the main fuel sources on the spacecraft.

  • Cactus-Mediated Carbon Dioxide Removal in Microgravity:

In this experiment, the researcher is aiming to measure the oxygen output and the CO2 intake of a selected form of cactus. This is beneficial to the space station and space travel if CO2 removal/O2 production can be replicated and maintained safely in a microgravity environment.

  • Activity of Mutated Drosophila in Microgravity:

In this experiment, the goal is to determine if there are any visible differences in flight between normal Drosophila flies and mutant Drosophila flies in microgravity. A terrestrial control version of the experiment will also be performed. The specific aim of the experiment is to identify if there are any positive differences in movement by placing the flies in a microgravity environment.

  • Ionic Fluids as Lubricants in Microgravity

The purpose of this experiment is to evaluate the lubricant properties - ability to reduce friction - of 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride in microgravity.  Friction will be generated by placing a motor-controlled wheel slide against a rough surface.  Friction with and without the 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride lubricant will be measured.

> Medicinal Plants in Microgravity

The Medicinal Plants in Microgravity mission is a research experiment led by the Chappell Lab within the University of Kentucky.  The purpose of this experiment is to uncover new chemistries provided through medicinal plants in a microgravity environment.  Specifically, the research goal is to unlock novel genetic expressions of chemical capabilities of two plant types – valerian (valeriana officinalis) and periwinkle (catharanthus roseus).  This experiment is divided into three phases: 1) establishing a baseline genetic guideline for medicinal plant seeds (non-germinated); 2) germinate medicinal plants in microgravity; and 3) multi-generational plant growth in microgravity that may encourage new gene expression. 

> Life Cycle of Arabidopsis thaliana in Microgravity

The Arabidopsis thaliana flight experiment is an educational experiment led by Magnitude.IO. The purpose of this experiment is to study how the life cycle of Arabidopsis thaliana is affected by a microgravity environment. Specifically, the educational goals of this experiment include: 1) to successfully grow Arabidopsis thaliana in microgravity; 2) to evaluate the differences between microgravity and parallel terrestrial growth systems in classrooms; and 3) to preserve the seeds for future multi-generational microgravity growth studies.



The newest addition to the Space Tango Team

Stacey Dries Headshot.jpeg

Stacey Dries has been working as a systems engineer on NASA programs for the past 13 years.  She has helped to develop a human factors verification process still in place today.  She has managed many aspects of integrating payload science to ISS including; requirements, verification and real-time support to both ISS and Shuttle missions.  Her work provided fully accommodated, multi-disciplined coordinated support to ensure mission success and support to real-time payload operations and issue resolution.  Stacey, originally from Santa Clarita, CA; graduated from Texas A&M with an Aerospace Engineering degree and currently lives in Houston, TX with her husband and family.

We asked Stacey a few fun questions to get to know her. Check them out to see what unique things she adds to our team!

What interest you about space?

I have always loved space.  Science and math were my favorite/better subjects in school and I enjoyed learning about orbital mechanics, physics and planetary science.  When I was in high school I attended Space Camp in Alabama for a week and that really got me interested in pursuing Aerospace Engineering.  During college I even got to return to Space Camp as a counselor for one summer. 

What makes you a unique addition to our team?

I also have an Associates degree in Dance.  I have been teaching dance in the local area for 10 years.  I tend to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and I believe that brings a good vibe to the teams I work with.

Do you have any favorite TV shows or movies?

From TV, I enjoy The Voice, The Amazing Race and Once Upon a Time.  As for movies, I love action and comedy movies; Star Wars and Star Trek, Indiana Jones, etc. 

If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

This one is tough, there are lots of people I would love to meet for many different reasons, Astronauts, famous dancers and actors, historical figures, etc; but if I had to pick right now, today, it would be my mother.  She passed away from cancer in 2010 and never got to meet her youngest grandchild (who is now 5), I would most want to spend the day with her just catching up and getting to see her be with the kids.

Describe your perfect day

My perfect day would start with sleeping in late (~9a in my world), I would spend the day with my family and friends outside where its warm and breezy near a pool with drinks and food.  Lots of music, games and fun while everyone relaxes, with no worries about the next day.

Space Tango is excited for the contributions that Stacey will bring to our work, as we push forward for the launch of SpaceX-10 this November. Follow our blog for more information on our team as well as current and upcoming projects.



SpaceX CRS-9: Our Journey Aboard the Dragon and Falcon 9

12:44 AM EDT, engines of Space-X’s Falcon-9 booster engaged, launching their Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Tucked away in the payload was our TangoLab-1 facility, preparing for its permanent installation in the Kibo module of the International Space Station, also known as the Japanese Experiment Module. This journey marked one small step towards Space Tango’s presence on the space station, and one giant leap for the future in microgravity research.

  Space Tango CEO Twyman Clements discusses the launch to team members, friends, and family as they patiently await the lift-off of Space-X 9, carrying Tango-Lab 1 to its home on the Station. 

Space Tango CEO Twyman Clements discusses the launch to team members, friends, and family as they patiently await the lift-off of Space-X 9, carrying Tango-Lab 1 to its home on the Station. 

This launch was SpaceX’s 9th commercial resupply trip to the station, carrying a multitude of equipment and experiments for use in the unique conditions provided by microgravity. This two-stage rocket left Cape Canaveral early Monday morning on a trajectory to the International Space Station. About two and a half minutes after the launch, the first stage of this rocket separated and fell back to earth, preparing to re-land at Cape Canaveral. At 12:53 AM EDT the booster successfully landed a few miles south of the original launch pad, marking the 5th successful attempt of this kind for the SpaceX crew.

  This long exposure shot shows the exit of the two stage rocket (on the left) and the re-entry of the Falcon 9 booster (on the right).  Source: SpaceX, Twitter

This long exposure shot shows the exit of the two stage rocket (on the left) and the re-entry of the Falcon 9 booster (on the right). Source: SpaceX, Twitter

The Dragon facility continued into orbit, and is scheduled to arrive at the station at 7:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, July 20th.  Appropriately, this date marks the 47th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the moon. This payload facility is loaded with 1700 kilograms of research, hardware, and supplies to be used onboard the station. In early August, our TangoLab-1 facility will be unloaded and installed in its new home in Kibo.

 Kibo (also known as the Japanese Experiment Module) will serve as TangoLab-1's home on the station. Image Credit: NASA

Kibo (also known as the Japanese Experiment Module) will serve as TangoLab-1's home on the station. Image Credit: NASA

However, the work doesn’t stop here! TangoLab-1’s installation is just one step towards experimentation in microgravity. The Space Tango team is back at work, diligently preparing experiments for SpaceX’s 10th mission, scheduled to leave Cape Canaveral on November 21st, 2016. These experiments will be sent up in a similar fashion, loaded into the TangoLab-1 facility, and will begin sending data back to our teams here on Earth as we explore innovations in space for applications on Earth.

 Pictured is Space Tango's TangoLab-1 Facility, which will be installed to its permanent home on the Station in early August.

Pictured is Space Tango's TangoLab-1 Facility, which will be installed to its permanent home on the Station in early August.

Learn more about our TangoLab-1 facility as well as the other equipment and research being sent to space in the following article:

More than Two Tons of New Equipment Bound for Station Following Blazing Liftoff




Space Tango in the News

With the approach of the launch date for SpaceX-9, the commercial resupply mission carrying Tango-Lab1 to the International Space Station, we at Space Tango are hard at work to make sure we're ready for space. Check out the following article from our local newspaper to hear about our office and beginnings, what we've been working on, and what the future may hold.

How a Lexington Company got its research on the International Space Station

 Picture Credits: Tom Eblen, Lexington Herald Leader

Picture Credits: Tom Eblen, Lexington Herald Leader


Exomedicine 2016: Recapped


Exomedicine 2016: Recapped

If you were unable to attend this year’s Exomedicine conference, here’s an update with some of the inspiring conversations that occurred:

David Wolf

The conference began with a discussion by former Astronaut David Wolf. He talked not only about his personal time in space, but also of the potentials of medical advancement through microgravity research. Dr. Wolf developed the American Flight Echocardiograph with NASA, allowing cardiovascular data of astronauts to be obtained. He then became the Chief Engineer for the Space Station Medical facility design, expanding technological capabilities in telemedicine, medical informatics, and bioinstrumentation on the International Space Station. Dr. Wolf was also Chief engineer of the “Space Bioreactor” project, a tissue-engineering system and cancer research program. This method is used both in space and on earth today. Dr. Wolf’s work represents the goals of exomedicine- discovery in space for applications on Earth.  

Dr. Wolf also helped to inspire conference attendees to think of gravity as a resource, rather than a constant or a barrier. If we can change our perspective about the potentials of research in microgravity, we can redefine the limits of our discovery.

Space Potential

After that, we heard from multiple innovators about the untapped potentials of space.

Twyman Clements- Space Tango

Twyman Clements, CEO of Space Tango, presented about our cube lab designs, helping to demonstrate that research in microgravity is possible with the right tools. Space Tango works to make this kind of research accessible to companies and academics alike. Using a cloud based portal system, researchers can have real-time access to data from the station, enhancing the capabilities for ground modeling systems back on earth.

Microgravity Biomedical Outcomes and Implications- CASIS

Michael Roberts from CASIS discussed how technology advancements on ISS give researchers more control over their experimentation. The International Space Station is equipped for a multitude of research platforms, whether it be small-scale experiments like Space Tango’s cube labs, or larger, more involved experimentation such as animal models. From research on cancer systems, regenerative medicine, neurodegenerative diseases, protein crystallization and more, experimentation in space can help us unlock solutions to problems we face here on Earth.  

Emerging Exomed missions and ideas

From growing plants, to culturing tissue and everything in-between, if you can design it on earth, you can complete it in space. Researchers Diane Snow, Joe Chappell, Luke Bradley, and Gentry Barnett discussed some of the exomedicine research that they’ve been designing, and what the future may hold for research in microgravity.



Bioengineering and Biomanufacturing in space

The only thing cooler than 3-d printing is 3-d printing in space. Microgravity conditions pose potentials not only for biomedical manufacturing, but materials manufacturing as well. 




"What box? It's not enough to think outside the box. You need to have no box." -Astronaut David Wolf


Why the name Space Tango? CEO Twyman Clements tells us "Because starting a business is like a dance."


Michael Roberts, from CASIS, discusses technological advancements on the International Space Station.


Dr. Chappel, Dr. Snow, Dr. Bradley, and biomedical engineer Gentry Barnett discuss experimental design of microgravity research.

Michael Golway, from Advanced Solutions Life Sciences, discusses advancement of 3-d print technologies for biomedical and pharmaceutical industries

Student Sourcing

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is changing peoples’ perspective- helping them to realize that research in microgravity is possible. One way to combat this issue is by intercepting those perceptions at the source: students. By helping young, innovative students see the potentials of space, we can expand our boundaries for discovery even more.

“There’s a sweet spot between knowing too much and not knowing enough.” Students often fall into this category, fresh in their education with room to learn, but still open enough to ask difficult questions and dream big about potentials for discovery. Anthony Mires, from Advance Kentucky, encapsulated this idea perfectly when he said, “If you give students the opportunity to think big and challenge themselves, they’ll do it.”

As with any conference, some of the greatest outcomes result from connecting with other members of the industry and engaging in thought-provoking conversations. If you were unable to come this year, we hope that you can join these conversations in the future!



Where in Space is Space Tango?

Our Tango-Lab1 facility will leave the atmosphere in mid July, traveling aboard SpaceX’s 9th resupply mission. Once aboard the International Space Station, the microwave-sized lab will be installed in the Japanese Experiment module of the station, called Kibo. Check out the map below to get an idea as to where we’ll be on the station:

Image Credits: National Geographic

Our set-up is completely automated, with no interaction from the astronauts when it comes to running day-to-day experiment tasks. Once the TangoLab is installed, the only human involvement necessary comes when payload cards are switched out. These payload cards house our cube labs, and allow for real time access to experimental data through a cloud-based portal. By limiting the need for astronaut involvement, experiments can be run at a much lower cost!



Exomedicine Conference 2016

 Connect with fellow scientists, space professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of medical exploration in space at the 2016 Exomedicine Conference. Held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, CA, join us to learn about opportunities to engage in this new frontier of medicine. Scientists, companies, and entrepreneurs will present about exomedicine experimentation on the International Space Station, discuss bioengineering and manufacturing in space, and explore the biomedical dynamics of microgravity. 



Click on the image below to learn more and register:



Year in Space

What exactly happens to the body when it experiences microgravity? In weightless environments, biological systems don’t always function as expected. In order for long-term missions (such as a mission to Mars) to occur, we must work to understand the changes that the human body experiences in microgravity, and take preventive measures to ensure the safety and success of astronauts during their flights. Studying how the body responds to extended exposure to microgravity can also help us understand biological functions here on Earth.


NASA aimed to explore how the body responds to microgravity in a yearlong study, where astronaut Scott Kelly spent almost an entire year (340 days) aboard the international space station. His twin brother, Mark, remained here on earth. Scott Kelly returned to standard gravity on March 2nd, and immediately underwent a series of medical examinations. Although the testing will continue over the next year to fully determine how his flight affected his body, Kelly reports that his initial observations of changes include a burning sensation when his skin comes in contact with things, as well as decreased spatial reasoning when it comes to perceiving gravity’s effect on his actions. Comparisons will be made between Scott and his twin Brother to see exactly what changes he experienced during his mission. Check out the following link to see other ways that Astronauts’ bodies change while in space:


How Astronauts are Affected by Space Exploration

 Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA