Students from the Tecnológico de Costa Rica (TEC) are seeking to raise $30,000 to launch their research proposal into space. This is the MUSA Project, which seeks to find -under microgravity conditions- a cure for Panama disease, a disease that threatens banana plantations around the world.
The Orbital Space Technologies (OST) venture -founded by students from different careers-, in partnership with the TEC’s Space Systems Laboratory (SETEC-Lab), seeks to send an experimentation module on a suborbital flight.
The launch is expected to be achieved thanks to the collaboration offered to TEC by the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), which has a space available at a favorable price in the SubOrbital Express-3 flight, scheduled for October 2022.
With the MUSA Project, TEC students won the sixth edition of the Mission Idea Contest, a global competition dedicated to the application of space technologies, and was recognized as the idea with the greatest potential for international cooperation by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
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The space mission is also supported by the Central American Aeronautics and Space Agency (ACAE)
“This project is extremely important on a national level, as it will test the technology needed to carry out Project MUSA aboard the International Space Station in the future. The research seeks to study the behavior of the fungus that causes Panama disease and its antagonist under microgravity conditions. It is a pest that causes losses of up to 80% in banana plantations worldwide, putting at risk the entire banana industry in the region and the people who depend on it. We want to study these fungi in microgravity in order to find genetic alterations in them produced by the space environment, which will allow us to find an eventual cure for the Panama disease,” explained Carlos Rodríguez Delgado, Orbital’s chief operating officer.
While OST is leading the research project, SETEC-Lab provides consultancy at every step of the project and facilitated collaboration with the Swedish company.
“The initiative to develop a suborbital experiment for the MUSA Project arose from the efforts of TEC’s Space Systems Laboratory (SETEC-Lab). In 2020 we received an offer from the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) to launch a suborbital experiment at a greatly reduced price. We immediately contacted Orbital Space Technologies to propose the development of an agreement and a joint project so that they could develop and test the necessary technologies for their experiment”, explained Dr. Johan Carvajal Godinez, member of SETEC-Lab and professor and researcher of the School of Electronic Engineering.
The space mission is also supported by the Central American Aeronautics and Space Agency (ACAE).
Campaign to build the experiment
The funds that the student venture seeks to raise will be used for:
Materials and construction of the experiment.
Flight preparation tests.
Biological samples and supplies.
Logistics and transportation of the experiment to the launch site.
The students intend to raise the funding of $30 000 through crowdfunding, on the platform GoGetFunding.com. The student venture asserts that any additional funds received after the $30,000 mark will be used to help develop and fund Project MUSA’s flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023.
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First published in HOY EN EL TEC, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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