Elon Musk's company is sending living bits of human organs to space
To see how humans would cope with living in space for long periods, scientists are sending bits of human organs to the ISS.
SpaceX, founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, sent four microchips embedded with living human cells to the International Space Station (ISS) this week. This strange payload was part of an experiment by the Tissue Chips in Space Initiative.
The project is studying how the human body is affected by microgravity.
While in orbit on the ISS, microgravity rapidly changes astronauts' bodies. It suppresses their immune systems, and their muscles and bones atrophy.
Each of the chips is designed to mimic a different part of the human body: the kidneys, bones, lungs and the blood brain barrier.
Scientists plan to use the chips to study how human cells react to space travel, in order to boost astronauts' immune systems for long missions in space.
They also believe the research will be critical to developing new medical treatments back on Earth. Under the effects of microgravity, human cells and disease age rapidly. Changes that take place over a few months on Earth, take just weeks in space.
This lets scientists in space see the effects of new drugs on diseases at a faster rate.
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