Extraterrestrial life brings some complications, but astronauts tackle them all the time aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in their attempt to solve the many mysteries of the universe. And scientists staying at home are trying to find ways to make life on the ISS easier. One of the biggest problems astronauts face is the availability of health care resources and infrastructure. For example, on Earth we have bandages for minor injuries. When astronauts on space stations suffer a flesh wound, there is little their colleagues can do. That’s going to change.
Scientists are testing a technology that links bioprinting using astronauts’ own cells. Recently, SpaceX launched its 24th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and it was carrying a handheld device called Bioprint FirstAid. The device contains astronaut cells, infused with bio-ink. It will help to apply a bandage to the site of the injury in near real time. The bio-ink then mixes with two gels to create a coating similar to plaster.
The main goal of the development of this device is that it can be easily applied during missions in extreme habitats on Earth and in space. The device is small and completely manual, requiring no batteries or other external power sources, NASA explains in an update. Technologies that have been used for this purpose so far are bulky and take a long time for the patches to mature. Also, using target patient skin patches will make the healing process less prone to rejection.
By sending the new technology into space, researchers are trying to understand how tissue layers work together in microgravity. The results of this experiment will provide them with insight into how to move forward and improve the technology for use in space and on Earth. This technology could be especially useful if NASA plans to go further into space to explore Mars.