CAST NEWS AND UPDATES

01 December 2023

CAST Director of Science and Technology, Lawrence Harvey, is a co-author of a paper published by npj Microgravity, titled “Behavior of Glioblastoma Brain Tumor Stem Cells Following a Suborbital Rocket Flight: Reaching the “Edge” of Outer Space”, with Principal Investigator, Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa.

The work was facilitated by CAST which, after reviewing the objectives and experimental procedures of the proposed research, arranged for supporting payload opportunities in a series of suborbital flights with Exos Aerospace from the Spaceport America Vertical Launch facility in New Mexico.

The research is providing the basis for additional efforts to understand and quantify the effects of microgravity on cancer stem cell expansion.

June-August 2023

Working with the City of Jacksonville (CoJ), CAST established the Innovative Healthcare Consortium of Northeast Florida (IHC-NEFL). The foundation of the consortium was the CAST-NSF team with significant augmentation to the team made by the City of Jacksonville.

The primary function of the IHC is to address shortcomings in healthcare availability created by cost, culture, accessibility, and availability. The IHC also targets the development and introduction of appropriate STEM education and Workforce Development programs and opportunities in order to ensure a sustainable, highly qualified workforce of researchers, clinicians, medical practitioners, aerospace engineers and technicians, logistics managers, as well as promote related small business and entrepreneurial opportunities. Space-based medicine research, clinical applications, and distribution provides the core of innovative practices. 

The Innovative Healthcare Consortium competed for grant funding administered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration Tech Hubs program to advance Consortium programs and processes. The IHC proposal, ‘Advancing Equitable Healthcare through the Creation of a Space-Enabled Medical Technology Hub”, was again, not funded, but has provided the basis for on-going program development and facilitated the growth of Consortium membership.

Week of 17 June 2023

CAST supported a significant STEM education program, the K12 Private Academy, in a visit by students and teachers to the environmental and aerospace activities located in Florida’s Space Coast. The presentations featured significant CAST activities in space-based earth observation, satellite tracking and monitoring of endangered marine species and habitats, and continuing research in space-based medicine with particular emphasis on the CAST-NASA REDDI ‘Large Scale Bioprinting in Microgravity’ project.

CAST presentations took place at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and at the Center for Space Education at the Kennedy Space Center. The CAST Director of Science and Technology, Lawrence Harvey, was also invited to become a member of the K12 Private Academy Advisory Board.

June 2022-February 2023

CAST led an extremely well-qualified and experienced team in pursuit of NSF funding in support of the Agency’s Regional Innovation Engines Program. The proposal focus was on the development and integration of research, technology, processes, and procedures essential to support the creation of a commercial space-based medicine capability in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Team members included the Mayo Clinic of Florida, Sierra Space, Redwire Aerospace, Cecil Spaceport, the City Of Jacksonville, the University of Florida Biotility, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Duval County Public Schools system, and a number of research and education-focused small businesses and activities.

The proposal passed peer review but failed to make the final selection. Though not funded, this effort has led to the development of multiple unique relationships and teaming opportunities in support of the space life sciences.

January-February 2022

With a focus on the CAST mission areas of STEM education and Workforce Development, Lawrence Harvey provided hands-on, interactive lectures in support of the Real World Expeditions Corporation.

The series of presentations featured: (1) space-based earth observation history, current capabilities, and future opportunities; (2) historical space exploration with an emphasis on programs and missions from Cape Canaveral/ Kennedy Space Center; and (3) the CAST focus, accomplishments, and expectations in space-based medicine research and clinical applications.

The student groups consisted of over 40 highly motivated Chilean high school students. The presentations were delivered at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and were also incorporated into a customized tour of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center. 

 

28 October 2021

At the request of NASA HQ, CAST had the honor of briefing NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on our vision for space-based medicine research that might eventually lead to innovative clinical applications. Besides CAST, the hour-long meeting included leadership from the Mayo Clinic in Florida and the Mayo Program for Research in Space Medicine (PRISM). We were most impressed by Administrator Nelson’s interest and knowledge in the Space Life Sciences including his relating our current program objectives with the space-based medicine research that he conducted during his flight on board Shuttle Columbia on STS-61-C in January, 1986.

16 December 2021

CAST and our teammates from Redwire Space, Cellink, and the Mayo Clinic in Florida PRISM, were selected by NASA for participation in a Flight Opportunity through the Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion (REDDI) Program. The team will be evaluating innovative bioinks and processes for printing cells and cell structures in reduced gravity. This effort represents a significant element of our greater vision for space-based medicine leading to clinical applications on a global scale and might provide an important foundation for future development of biomanufacturing processes in the environment of microgravity.

.https://www.nasa.gov/center/armstrong/features/space-tech-for-suborbital-flight.html

January 2021

CAST teams with advanced manufacturing, medical research, and higher education-based research facilities to design space flight hardware configured to support continued advanced regenerative medicine research and application conducted in microgravity. 

1 June 2020

CAST (Lawrence M. Harvey), listed as a co-author of a paper published in npj Microgravity (2020) 16.  Titled “Feasibility, potency, and safety of growing human mesenchymal stem cells in space for clinical application”, the paper presents the results of Dr. Zubair’s MSC research conducted on ISS in February-March, 2017.

20 November 2019

CAST’s Maria Peterson was a participant on a Space Life Sciences panel at the 2019 SpaceCom Commercial Space Conference and Symposium in Houston, Texas.

Addressing a conference theme, “Launching the Trillion-Dollar Space Economy’, Maria discussed the processes, problems, and prognosis for the future of flying space life sciences payloads, particularly to and from ISS.

18 July 2019

Lawrence M. Harvey of CAST featured in a news story on Action News Jax.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — Fading news clippings and photos are spread out on Larry and Terry Harvey’s dining room table in Orange Park.

Fifty years after the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, they’re remembering both of their fathers — engineers who worked to make the lunar landing a reality.

“The buildings shook, rattled. It was kind of like an earthquake, only it lasted longer,” said Terry Harvey.

They were both 17 years old when they watched their fathers’ latest work project make history.

2 March 2019

The CAST-Mayo Clinic Space Medicine team returned to Spaceport America in New Mexico, for another suborbital flight on the EXOS Aerospace SARGE rocket.

Once again, the team utilized modified BRIC flight hardware to support research that included glioblastoma cells, Mesenchymal Stromal Cells, brain organoids, and the flight testing of novel research instrumentation.

25 August 2018

At the invitation of EXOS Aerospace Systems and Technologies, CAST provided a space medicine payload for the initial launch of the suborbital SARGE rocket from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The CAST-Mayo team developed a modified BRIC to support a payload that featured multiple experiments including organoids (MIT), and vital sign remote sensing instruments.

5 January 2018

CAST-Mayo event carried by the Florida Times Union.

Lawrence Harvey knew there is growing evidence that stem cells can play an important role in regenerative medicine. So he contacted the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to see if anyone there had any interest in exploring that idea.

Abba Zubair, the medical and scientific director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at Mayo in Jacksonville, was interested. At the Mayo Clinic, stem cells were already being used to treat knee injuries and transplanted lungs.

Zubair believes they can have many other medical applications. But stem cells can be difficult to reproduce in the quantities required to make them effective medical tools. So Zubair sought CAST’s help in getting some stem cells to the International Space Station.

In May 2015, Harvey helped Zubair send a capsule filled with stem cells to the edge of space aboard a high-altitude balloon that climbed to 100,000 feet. The balloon then released the capsule, allowing Zubair to assess how stem cells would fare when returning to Earth from a high altitude.

17 November 2017

CAST and the Mayo Clinic Florida conduct the first space-based medicine seminar at the Mayo Clinic’s Kinne Auditorium. “Creating a Regional Space Medicine Consortium”, was sponsored by Made In Space, Cecil Spaceport, and Guidewell.

Keynote speakers included Astronaut Dr. David Wolf and Mayo’s Dr. Abba Zubair. CAST leadership discussed the potential benefits to the Northeast Florida region that might be derived through the creation of a space-based economic ecosystem.

3 August 2017

CAST provides an experimental biological payload for the first, and only (so far), space launch conducted by Vector Aerospace from the proposed Camden County Spaceport in southeast Georgia.

The proof-of-concept payload consisted of a Cubesat containing samples of cryptophytes collected from local waters.  After a short duration flight, the payload was recovered and returned to CAST for analysis.

19 February 2017

SpaceX conducts the first launch from KSC Launch Complex 39A since the final shuttle launch,  Atlantis STS-135 on 8 July 2011. The Falcon 9/Dragon CRS-10 Payload included Dr. Zubair’s stem cell investigations which, after the research was completed, returned from ISS a month later.

21 June 2015

CAST facilitated a biological payload ‘return from space capsule’ proof-of-concept as part of a Terminal Velocity Aerospace test from a NASA high altitude balloon. Lifting from Tillamook, Oregon, the balloon reached an altitude of 101,400 feet before the Terminal Velocity capsule was released for return to the ground.

A stem cell sample, featuring Mesenchymal Stromal Cells from Dr. Abba Zubair’s lab at Mayo Clinic Florida, was on board the capsule. The flight opportunity also enabled the CAST-Mayo team to flex the biological transport system that would be used to transfer stem cells between the lab at Mayo and a prospective launch or recovery site.

Following recovery and return to Jacksonville, the stem cells were evaluated against a control sample in Dr. Zubair’s lab.

High-altitude balloon lifts space reentry capsule for flight test. (Credit: Near Space Corporation)

March 2014

CAST teams with Dr. Abba Zubair of the Mayo Clinic Florida, to respond to a CASIS RFP concerning stem cell research on the International Space Station. Dr. Zubair is awarded a funded research opportunity as a result.

September 2013

Anticipating that the conduct of research in the environment of microgravity might lead to a breakthrough in cancer research and treatment, CAST connects with a highly qualified, highly motivated medical research clinician, Dr. Abba Zubair, of the Mayo Clinic Florida.

Working with Dr. Zubair, CAST is able to hone its focus on facilitating an understanding of regenerative medicine processes when human stem cells are cultivated in the environment of microgravity.

June 2010

Responding to President Obama’s reallocation of $40 Million to offset the local economic hardships engendered by the impending shuttle fly-out, CAST proposes the temporary transition of the Shuttle Landing Facility into a world-class Unmanned Aerial System test and proving ground.

Though not funded through the President’s program, CAST is contracted by Space Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation to census and evaluate unmanned and autonomous technologies throughout the State of Florida.

The CAST efforts provide the foundation for Florida’s bid for a federal test range as well as help stimulate the industry within the state.

FALL 2009

CAST engages with Brevard Workforce to design, develop, and conduct training for soon-to-be-displaced shuttle program workforce.

Working with the University of Florida Center of Excellence for Regenerative Health Biotechnology (UFCERHB), CAST is able to support technician transition into the burgeoning Florida biotechnology industry through the “Aerospace Tech to BioTECH” program. 

CAST further supports this transition by developing a highly interactive website that helped workforce members identify career and educational opportunities outside of the space industry.

January 2008

CAST created, facilitated, or conducted natural resource management and associated research through a variety of Earth Observation programs including:

Utilizing satellite tracking data to identify the colocation of multiple marine species, particularly bluefin tuna and leatherback sea turtles, transiting through the Gulf of Mexico;

Utilizing satellite-generated Sea Surface Temperature readings to identify a cold water upwelling along the eastern Florida coastline that was inhibiting the nesting of loggerhead and green sea turtles;

Employment of satellite products including SST and radar altimetry to locate and track warm core eddies spun off of the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico. The east-to-west movement of these eddies is important for bluefin tuna spawning; vertical structure concerns for oil platforms; and tropical cyclone transit and intensification;

Satellite tracking including Automatic Identification System (AIS), to support fisheries management in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

FALL 2007

CAST opens an office in Hangar “Little L” onboard the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

2 AUGUST 2006

The lights in a small office on the third floor of the Kennedy Space Center HQ Building burned late into the evening on a night in early August 2006. Inside, a NASA Life Sciences engineer, a space life sciences program and payload developer, and a space program manager were exploring ways to preserve and even grow a variety of life sciences technologies that were in peril of extinction.

NASA had just announced that the remaining space shuttle flights of a severely truncated schedule would be dedicated to the build-out of the International Space Station, leaving little to no room or opportunity for the conduct of research.

After hours of playing ‘what if’, it was decided that the best platform for transitioning these technologies and associated research and maintaining them in some form of stasis, might be a not-for-profit organization. The name came much easier and the Center for Applied Space Technology or CAST, was born.

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