Uganda has recently taken the next step toward the development of microgravity bioprinting by launching a satellite known as the PearlAfricaSat-1. This satellite is equipped with a facility for 3D bioprinting in space. Because of this, the nation will be able to take advantage of microgravity, which is the state of being close to weightlessness, in order to print human tissues.
This is something that is difficult to do on Earth due to the possibility that the intricate scaffolding (such as blood vessels) required to create tissue structures could collapse under their own weight; however, this does not happen in space. Now, Uganda is able to join the ranks of other nations, both in terms of having a space presence and making use of 3D printing.
A collaboration between Uganda and the Kyushu Institute of Technology made it possible to successfully launch the satellite (Kyutech).
The design, construction, testing, and launch of the satellite were all handled by three engineers working for the latter company.
Regarding the onboard technology, the BioFabrication Facility, also known as the BFF, will serve as the bioprinter that is utilized. “game-changing” is how the technology is described by John Vellinger, who works for Redwire, the business that is creating the technology. He also underlines the potentially “huge ramifications for the future of human health and patient care on Earth.”
The satellite has now successfully landed on the International Space Station, where it will provide assistance with the printing of ovary tissue for the purpose of determining how the function is affected by weightlessness.
It will also provide assistance with a number of investigations unrelated to 3D printing, such as weather forecasting and the prevention of natural disasters. Zimsat-1 was launched at the same time as PearlAfricaSat-1, and both satellites are a part of the Birds Satellite project.
PearlAfricaSat-1 was launched by South Africa. Zimsat-1 was launched by Zimbabwe. This most recent endeavor is an international project backed by Japan that enables nations that do not yet have the capability to travel into space to take part in operations such as the one being discussed here.
To return to the topic of 3D bioprinting, this technology has been around for some time. The research that has been done on it has shown that it is beneficial to the study of cell structure since it can automate pipetting, providing an alternative to manual approaches that are prone to human error.
In addition, the possibilities are arguably the most exciting aspect of any 3D technology, as there is the possibility of creating tissues and even whole organs that can be used for transplants, testing of drugs and medicines, and cancer research, to name just a few examples of potential applications of this technology.
The significance of this initiative lies in the fact that it would allow Uganda to not only break into the aerospace business but also make use of 3D bioprinting for the betterment of the country.