Israeli Nano-Satellite Docks at International Space Station
A nano-satellite developed by Israeli start-up SpacePharma successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) Tuesday. The nano-satellite, named “Nexus” measures in at a mere 10x10x20 centimeters, about the size of a shoe box, and weighs just under two-and-a-half kilograms.
The Nexus, launched from earth on Sunday as part of a three-ton cargo payload to the ISS, is a state-of-the-art micro laboratory which allows researchers to conduct controlled experiments in a zero-gravity environment at a fraction of the cost of manned experiments thanks to the Nexus’ tiny size. It is equipped with the mGnify (pronounced ‘magnify’) system, which, according to SpacePharma founder Yossi Yamin, is a “proprietary miniaturized, end-to-end laboratory that allows researchers to remotely control vital scientific experiments anywhere from Earth.”
Using the system, researchers can test the durability of certain chemicals in a zero-gravity environment, intervene in an experiment and receive microscopic images and scientific data in real time, all without being dependent on human astronauts.
This is SpacePharma’s second launch in 9 months, and it’s first with NASA, after their last nano-satellite “Dido” was launched in cooperation with India’s space program in February.
“Meeting Nasa’s strict requirements is a significant standard-mark for the company,” said Yamin, adding that “working in coordination with the Americans was extremely demanding, and it is not to be taken for granted that [NASA] incorporated [our] system in their payload.”
Speaking about the Israeli accomplishment, Science and Space Minister Ofir Akunis said “We are proud to see Israeli entrepreneurs breaking boundaries and noting achievements in space in such a short time,” adding that, “this is further proof that Israel is a superpower of innovation and a trailblazer in every field.”
The Nasa payload was received aboard the ISS at 7:15 AM (Houston time) by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who hooked up the Nexus.
There are currently four experiments set to be conducted on board the nano-satellite involving researchers from Israel, the United States and Switzerland. All experiments are in the field of Life Science and are the first of their kind being conducted in space. The experiments are set to take approximately three weeks.