We’re on the cusp of the next industrial revolution—and it will be largely fueled by microgravity technology. This breakthrough foundation tech has already led to advancements in science, and it will continue to revolutionize the field.
Under Earth’s gravity, all matter is anchored to the ground. In microgravity, objects in space appear weightless. An astronaut can move an object that on Earth weighs hundreds of pounds with just the mere pressure of their fingertips.
This creates a one-of-a-kind environment—one that will fundamentally change our understanding of matter, resulting in transformative innovations and a wealth of new space technology.
Microgravity research has far-reaching applications, with touchpoints in pharmaceutical manufacturing, material engineering, and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. It will also entirely disrupt terrestrial biotech and industrial markets.
It’s not an abstract concept, either. Scientists on the International Space Station (ISS) are already using microgravity to achieve new insights into cell and organ behavior.
As a leader in the space exploration industry, Sierra Space is well-positioned to capture a meaningful leadership role in this microgravity market. Let’s talk about why.
The Power of Microgravity
It’s fascinating to watch astronauts float weightlessly while aboard a spacecraft, effortlessly able to glide from one area to another. The microgravity environment is what allows this to happen, and it holds the power to unlock massive potential in scientific discovery.
Microgravity occurs when something is in a constant free fall toward Earth but also moving forward at incredibly high speeds. This creates a sensation of weightlessness for astronauts and objects inside of a spacecraft.
Though the intrigue goes beyond floating—by accessing microgravity, we can conduct types of experiments that simply aren’t possible on Earth. This is because microgravity affects the way most matter behaves.
Without gravity’s dominant influence, there is no sedimentation and buoyancy and convection are nearly nonexistent. Microgravity also changes the behavior of flames and combustion, and makes for unique behaviors in solid matter.
If we can harness the properties of microgravity, it could lead to a step-change in advancement in industries across the board. It will affect the education sector, how we create new space technology, and countless other industries.
The scope is wide, and the door is open. Now, it’s up to pioneers of scientific ingenuity to take the leap.
Microgravity in Life Sciences – How It Can Save Lives
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are chronic conditions like heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory disease. According to the World Health Organization, NCDs are responsible for 74% of global deaths per year.
Today, scientists are continuously grappling with how to address and cure these life-threatening diseases, as well as other adverse conditions.
The microgravity environment can truly be a game-changer in this area. It allows for invaluable insights into the human body—including an accelerated disease model, and the ability to grow larger and more perfect protein crystals.
With these perspectives, microgravity will likely contribute to breakthroughs in disease treatment. In addition, it can help form a fresh understanding of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and pharmaceutical drug testing.
Using microgravity, researchers can also study conditions like muscle atrophy, bone loss, and cardiovascular disease. In short, this kind of technology will revolutionize how we address disease and aging, paving the way for longer lifespans and an enhanced quality of life.
The benefits don’t stop at finding more effective cures. Microgravity allows researchers to precisely control the growth and structure of materials as well. That way, they can create stronger and more durable materials for the healthcare and other industries.
By pushing the boundaries of medical science, microgravity will rapidly transform healthcare. In fact, the microgravity environment will expedite the time it takes scientists to come up with novel solutions to our most pressing health problems.
How We Are Capitalizing on Microgravity’s Potential
Sierra Space recognizes the incredible opportunities that come from merging microgravity and modern science. We’re providing innovative solutions for emerging markets like semiconductors and advanced glass, monoclonal antibody and drug formulations, cell-based assays, and regenerative medicine.
Unsurprisingly, we’re eager to put our hard work into action. Our first commercial space station is being prepped to go to space within this decade.
We’re working to engage with the global marketplace. With several years in the making, we’ve built a substantial client pipeline and portfolio of contracts. In particular, we’ve leveraged Contract Research Organizations (CROs), which are known for their expertise in managing and conducting clinical trials for pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
By building partnerships with research communities, we’re poised to advance on-orbit biomanufacturing. Moreover, we’ve already identified advanced materials with immense potential and are proactively working with manufacturers. To date, more than 50 partner agreements have been executed.
Backed by these partnerships, Sierra Space will be able to swiftly deliver delicate science, faster than any other company in the world.
Microgravity and the International Space Station
On Earth, gravity pulls everything downwards, so our cells and tissues form and organize in a very specific way.
However, this is not the same in microgravity, so cells and tissues align differently. This unique environment causes surprising changes in cell cluster shape, structure, and behavior.
Scientists study this to learn how microgravity might help create better treatments for diseases and improve tissue engineering.
The ISS is home to this revolutionary research. By running life sciences experiments on the ISS, Sierra Space may help researchers gain insights that lead to innovative therapies, medical devices, and manufacturing technologies.
For example, “Ring Sheared Drop” conducted on the ISS led to groundbreaking insights into fluid dynamics and shear flow behavior in microgravity. It has helped us better understand amyloids, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Sierra Space also developed the pathfinder spaceflight investigation in collaboration with BioServe Technologies (at the University of Colorado Boulder) and other partners to grow hematopoietic stem cells in microgravity to better help patients on Earth undergoing treatment for blood cancer.
The space industry is the next economic leap—evident in the fact that it’s expected to surge to $1 trillion by 2040. Soon, we’re going to see a growing interest in microgravity from industries across the world.
Learn More About the Future of Microgravity Tech
Humanity’s exploration into microgravity is still in its initial stages. As such, it’s the time to be excited about the limitless potential of this emerging new space technology.
Sierra Space is at the forefront of spacecraft innovation and leading the future for microgravity technology. Our team wants to lead humanity into the Orbital AgeTM by creating a commercially owned and operated space station. Here, cutting-edge microgravity research will be conducted by scientists across the globe. This unique science will be returned to Earth in a gentle fashion with our own fleet of Dream Chaser® spacecraft.
Want to be a part of the journey? Learn more about Sierra Space and our mission to revolutionize humanity’s connection to space.