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Heinlein Trust and SpaceX Announce Competition to Promote Research Innovation in Zero Gravity
Date:2/4/2009

Removing Gravity Offers New Understanding of Biological and Physical Processes

HOUSTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Heinlein Prize Trust announces the Microgravity Research Competition to reward innovation in the use of microgravity to advance biotech, nanotech, combustion, metallurgy, and other fields. Sponsored by the Trust and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the competition offers a $25,000 prize and transportation to and from Low Earth Orbit for the winning experiment aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

"Decades of demonstrations have shown that the microgravity of space provides a unique window on biological and physical processes," said Art Dula, Trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust. "Because of substantial recent funding by NASA and the private sector, access to microgravity will soon be more commonplace. This opens an incredibly exciting opportunity for the research community," Dula said.

The winning experiment will be launched into Earth orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. NASA recently selected Falcon 9 / Dragon to transport cargo to the International Space Station.

The Microgravity Research Competition is open to U.S. universities and non-profits organizations with industry partners. The winning team will also get to witness the launch of their experiment from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

"SpaceX is excited to offer our Dragon spacecraft as a platform for in-space experimentation services to mainstream researchers," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO. "We plan to fly 'DragonLab' missions starting in 2010 for this express purpose," Musk said.

In space, there is no gravity-induced convection, sedimentation, hydrodynamic shear force, hydrostatic pressure, or mass transfer, according to the competition announcement. Experiments in microgravity can reveal novel mechanisms fundamental to cell processes, disease
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SOURCE Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust
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