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NASA Nanosatellite to Study Antifungal Drug Effectiveness in Space
Date:4/28/2009

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA is preparing to fly a small satellite about the size of a loaf of bread that could help scientists better understand how effectively drugs work in space. The nanosatellite, known as PharmaSat, is a secondary payload aboard a U.S. Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket planned for launch the evening of May 5.

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PharmaSat weighs approximately 10 pounds. It contains a controlled environment micro-laboratory packed with sensors and optical systems that can detect the growth, density and health of yeast cells and transmit that data to scientists for analysis on Earth. PharmaSat also will monitor the levels of pressure, temperature and acceleration the yeast and the satellite experience while circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour. Scientists will study how the yeast responds during and after an antifungal treatment is administered at three distinct dosage levels to learn more about drug action in space, the satellite's primary goal.

The Minotaur 1 rocket is on the launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at Wallops Island, Va. The Wallops range is conducting final checkouts. The U.S. Air Force has announced that the rocket could launch at any time during a three-hour launch window beginning at 8 p.m. EDT May 5.

"Secondary payload nanosatellites expand the number of opportunities available to conduct research in microgravity by providing an alternative to the International Space Station or space shuttle conducted investigations," said Elwood Agasid, PharmaSat project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "The PharmaSat spacecr
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