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Updated 29-08-2021, 08:45
Update - 28-08-2021, 16:00
Malta's long-anticipated first mission to the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory will take place tomorrow Sunday 29 August at 09:14 - this is the second launch attempt.
Poor weather forced the SpaceX CRS23 mission managers to scrub todays' - 28 August - planned launch of the Falcon 9 Rocket from Florida. The launch was called off around 10 minutes before the scheduled 09:37 CET lift-off time, due to very poor weather conditions near the launchpad.
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Project Maleth's SpaceOMIX experiment will remain on board the ISS in orbit for around 40 to 50 days. It will then start its way back by re-entry of the dragon capsule and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.
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Back in May, it was announced that Project Maleth, being led by Prof. Joseph Borg from the Department of Applied Biomedical Science, would be sending scientific data to the International Space Station with the aim of ushering Maltese science into a new era of space diplomacy.
On 28 August 2021, for the second time within the same month, and with both efforts being led by the University of Malta, Malta will be sending the second experiment into space and the first ever into low earth orbit (LEO), containing biomedical samples from Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients from Malta and sent to the International Space Station so experiments can be carried out using this valuable material and data analysis can then shed more light on important discoveries made.
Collected by student Christine Gatt as part of her doctoral studies, the samples will be sent in a specialised Biocube constructed by Space Applications Services, Brussels, Belgium. And then analysed in micro-gravity environment in one of the country’s most innovative research missions yet.
Prof. Borg, who is coordinating this mission, said this Biocube will depart from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA.
Speaking to Newspoint, Prof. Borg talked about the viability of sending and accessing data through space, saying “So far, we have been accustomed to things moving through other means of transport and communication systems. The more time goes by, the more we will come to realise that capitalising on space as a tool and medium to conduct more aﬀordable research, ask important questions related to medical health, and more researchers will be looking into this option.”
SpaceOMIX, the name assigned to this mission which is part of Project Maleth, is financed by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry in collaboration with private entities.
The project is also listed on the Zaar campaign that leads a crowd funding effort for anyone to take part and supporting the field. Contributors through the Zaar campaign not only support Project Maleth, but their donations also help fundraise for Malta’s future missions related to space bioscience while unlocking some exciting rewards, including exclusive merchandise, a tour of the science laboratory and the chance to visit the biocube in person upon its return. The campaign will continue to run until the biocube has safely landed back on Earth in October. You can also support Project Maleth on Zaar’s crowdfunding page.
This historic adventure may be followed by everyone online. Activities around the official launch of the space vehicle as well as the confirmation of the connectivity between Maleth Centre and the station will be organised by Esplora and the Malta Council for Science and Technology.
This project is being supported by the Research, Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT) of the University of Malta, which is tasked to support and sustain research in all areas of study at the university by raising funds from various sectors of society.