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Researchers Have Developed An Anti-Microbial Coating That Will Help Astronauts Fight Superbugs on ISS

"Immuno-suppression, bacterial virulence and infection risk increase with duration of spaceflight. We must continue to develop new approaches to combat bacterial infections if we are to attempt longer missions to Mars and beyond," Grohmann noted.

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A regular silver coating tested for comparison had only a slight anti-microbial effect, reducing the number of bacteria by 30 per cent against steel. VOA

Researchers have developed an anti-microbial coating that reduced the growth of bacteria on contamination-prone surfaces at the ISS, and could help protect astronauts beyond the Moon and Mars from the antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Microgravity, cosmic radiation, psychological stress and unearthly conditions at the International Space Station (ISS) lead to weakened immune system and strengthening of bacteria that can put the crew at risk.

In the study, published in Frontiers in Microbiology journal, the team tested a new anti-microbial coating named AGXX, made of precious metals, on the toilet door. It proved to be highly effective.

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To make matters worse, the genes responsible for these new traits can be readily shared among different species of bacteria. Pixabay

After six months, no bacteria were recovered from AGXX-coated surfaces.

Even at 12-19 months, just 12 bacteria were recovered — a reduction of 80 per cent compared with bare steel. A regular silver coating tested for comparison had only a slight anti-microbial effect, reducing the number of bacteria by 30 per cent against steel.

“AGXX contains silver and ruthenium, conditioned by a vitamin derivative, and it kills all kinds of bacteria as well as certain fungi, yeasts and viruses,” said Professor Elisabeth Grohmann from the Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, Germany.

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Thus, the bacteria they carry become harder — developing thick protective coatings and resistance to antibiotics — more vigorous, multiplying and metabolising faster.
Pixabay

“The effects are similar to bleach, except the coating is self-regenerating and never gets used up,” Grohmann said.

Grohmann noted that spaceflight can turn harmless bacteria into potential pathogens as the stress hormones leave astronauts vulnerable to infection.

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Thus, the bacteria they carry become harder — developing thick protective coatings and resistance to antibiotics — more vigorous, multiplying and metabolising faster.

To make matters worse, the genes responsible for these new traits can be readily shared among different species of bacteria.

“Immuno-suppression, bacterial virulence and infection risk increase with duration of spaceflight. We must continue to develop new approaches to combat bacterial infections if we are to attempt longer missions to Mars and beyond,” Grohmann noted. (IANS)

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SpaceX Plans To Send NASA Astronauts To Space in Q2 This Year

As part of the test on Sunday, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about 1.5 minutes after liftoff

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NASA
It took a lot of work between NASA and SpaceX to get to this point. Pixabay

After NASA and SpaceX successfully completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk said that his aerospace company aims to send NASA astronauts to space between April and June this year.

This was the final major flight test of the spacecraft before it begins carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, the US space agency said in a statement on Sunday.

With this test now complete, the next big flight of the Crew Dragon will have people on board: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

“We’re highly confident that the hardware will be ready in Q1, most likely at the end of February but no later than March. And we think it appears probable that the first crewed launch would occur in the second quarter,” said Musk after the successful uncrewed test of its Crew Dragon capsule’s in-flight launch escape capabilities.

Musk said that if all goes well, the first crewed flight on the Crew Dragon could take place in the second quarter of this year.

“This critical flight test puts us on the cusp of returning the capability to launch astronauts in American spacecraft on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We are thrilled with the progress NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme is making and look forward to the next milestone for Crew Dragon.”

As part of the test on Sunday, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about 1.5 minutes after liftoff. All major functions were executed, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing. Crew Dragon splashed down at 10:38 am just off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

“As far as we can tell thus far, it’s a picture perfect mission. It went as well as one can possibly expect,” said Musk. “This is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the SpaceX and NASA teams to achieve this goal. Obviously, I’m super fired up. This is great.”

NASA
After NASA and SpaceX successfully completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk said that his aerospace company aims to send NASA astronauts to space between April and June this year. Wikimedia Commons

Prior to the flight test, teams completed launch day procedures for the first crewed flight test, from suit-up to launch pad operations. The joint teams now will begin the full data reviews that need to be completed prior to NASA astronauts flying the system during SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission. “The past few days have been an incredible experience for us,” said astronaut Doug Hurley.

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“Today, we watched the demonstration of a system that we hope to never use, but can save lives if we ever do. It took a lot of work between NASA and SpaceX to get to this point, and we can’t wait to take a ride to the space station soon,” he said in the NASA statement. (IANS)