Experiments from a UCF professor and graduate will soon zoom into space, aboard two payloads slated to launch this Saturday.
The SpaceX-4 launch, which is scheduled for 2:16 a.m. at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, will carry the research of physics professor Joshua Colwell and engineering alumnus Jason Dunn.
Colwell, who also serves as the assistant director of the Florida Space Institute, began his research to explore low-energy collisions of dust particles to better understand conditions that result in the formation of the building blocks of planets, according a release from UCF News and Information.
A 3-D printer created by engineering alumnus Jason Dunn, developed specifically to operate in space, will also be on board.
Both experiments were selected as part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, and will be delivered to the crew aboard the International Space Station.
They could also greatly impact the space industry.
Dunn's printer, for example, would allow astronauts to cut down on resupply missions and create replacement parts right from space — which, if achieved, would mark the first time an item is manufactured in space.
Colwell's experiment, which is sponsored by Space Florida, will analyze slow-speed collisions of dust that don't occur on Earth.
"The results of the low-energy collisions will be used to help understand the processes in action in the protoplanetary disk, the disk of dust and gas that surrounds the center of our solar system," the release states. "The test will lay the groundwork for experimenting with larger particles."