The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently sent a batch of antibiotic-resistant Superbug to the International Space Station (ISS) for scientific research. The strain of bacteria, along with other experiments, were sent to the ISS through SpaceX's Dragon cargo attached to the upgraded Falcon 9 booster last Sunday.
Nanobiosym Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Anita Goel, who is working alongside NASA on this project, is hoping to better understand the superbug by sending it to the ISS for experimentation, according to CNN. The bug that Goel and NASA sent to the space station is called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) but it is often referred to as Staph. It can cause several illnesses to patients like sepsis, skin and bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and others more.
Dr. Goel, a medical doctor, and physicist explains that the zero gravity of space may help accelerate the superbug's mutation. "If we can use microgravity as an accelerator to fast-forward and get a sneak preview of what these mutations will look like, then we can essentially build smarter drugs on Earth," she continued.
The Dragon cargo was originally scheduled to lift off Saturday but Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, had decided to pull the plug and delay the launch to the next day due to odd readings, New York Times reported. The mission then continued after an overnight of inspection and swapping of mechanisms. The payload, which contains the MSRA superbug, is expected to be delivered to the ISS on Wednesday.
The cargo also contains other scientific instruments like the Stratospheric Aerosol Gas Experiment III - also called SAGE III - that will help study the planet's Ozone layer, and the Raven module. The latter, as said on reports, is a technology that can perform autonomous rendezvous with other satellites and repair them.
Meanwhile, the Falcon 9 has safely returned to Earth after its launch on Sunday. Viewers may watch the dramatic landing video of the booster on Musk's Instagram account.