The second Maltese experiment to be conducted on board the International Space Station is set for launch early on Friday morning, with researchers aiming to use their findings in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. 

The Maleth II will be lifting off at 2.44 am from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as part of a SpaceX cargo resupply mission. 

The experiment will serve as a follow-up to the first Maleth study, which was launched into space in August last year. It is intended to pave the way for improving precision-based medicine when treating diabetic foot ulcers. 

The research, funded by state and private sources, is focused on how human skin tissue and yeast cells behave in space and what makes them more adaptable and resistant to adverse conditions, such as antibiotics.

Associate professor of biomedical science at the University of Malta Joseph Borg, who is leading the research team, said that the first experiment had been both a success and a learning experience. 

“The project yielded results and findings that may have implications further down the line on diabetic foot ulcer research and antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” he said.

“As far as the learning journey goes, we now know how to build our own missions using local resources, knowledge and people. The second mission launching Friday - Maleth II - is a follow-up study intended to validate the first findings as well as pioneering new test samples intended for basic and fundamental life science research.”

Borg said he was hopeful that the experiment would lead to good results and opportunities to plan further missions in 2023.

“We hope to be able to close the Maleth Program and make way for the next, more ambitious program that we have been preparing so far,” he said.

“The impact of our mission findings on real-world applications is the most important and that’s a promise we will continue building upon.”

Rocket to carry artworks and photos by Becs Zammut Lupi

The SpaceX rocket on Friday will also carry a data card, on which will be several artworks and photos by Rebecca (Becs) Zammit Lupi who passed away in January last year, aged 15.

"Becs, who loved sci-fi movies and stories and was fascinated by space, is going to the stars..." her father, photo-journalist Darrin Zammit Lupi wrote on Facebook.


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