A spatial study to help live longer, healthier lives


Tiny human muscle cells will be propelled into space in an experiment that could help people live longer and healthier lives.

The experiment, called MicroAge, is scheduled to launch on Tuesday to the International Space Station.

The space will be used to understand what happens to human muscles as people age, and why.

Laboratory-grown human muscle cells, no larger than a grain of rice, were placed in small 3D printed racks the size of a pencil sharpener.

Once in space, they will be electrically stimulated to induce contractions in muscle tissue, and scientists will take a close look at what is going on.

Spending time without the effects of gravity can weaken the muscles of astronauts, just as they do in old age, before recovering when they return to earth.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool, funded by the British Space Agency, will study what happens to muscle tissue in space and compare the results to what happens on Earth.

This will help solve the puzzle of why muscles weaken with age and find ways to prevent the process.

Muscles lose mass and strength as people age, which can affect the ability to perform daily tasks and cause a range of problems, including an increased risk of falls and longer recovery times from exercises. injuries.

“Aging is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century and we will learn a lot about how muscle responds to microgravity and aging from the data we get from this study,” said Professor Malcolm Jackson, from the University of Liverpool.

“The team had to work extremely hard over the past three years to overcome the many challenges of sending our science into space.

“For example, the electronic equipment needed to undertake these studies usually fills a large office, but we have managed to reduce it to the size of a deck of cards.”

UK Science Minister George Freeman said: “By harnessing the unique environment of the International Space Station, our pioneering scientists could help us live healthier and stronger lives.”

MicroAge is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., At 9 p.m. AEDT on Tuesday.

The experiment will return to Earth in January 2022 for further analysis.


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