Malta will be sending a research capsule to the International Space Station in what will be Malta’s first bit of space research.
Project Maleth, as the mission is called, was launched by Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo and Research Minister Owen Bonnici during a press conference this morning.
The project will see a Biocube containing samples that will form part of an experiment into treatment for diabetic foot ulcers sent into space. It is hoped that the experiment will result in a better understanding of the mode of action of the bacteria causing the condition.
Professor Joseph Borg, who is leading the initiative, explained that the cube, which was designed by Space Application Services in The Netherlands, will also contain cameras and a computer module.
The cube will be launched from Cape Canaveral on 18th August and will spend 45 days at the International Space Station.
Researchers will be able to monitor the experiment in real-time.
Moreover, the project intends to lay the foundation for further technical collaborations between Maltese and International institutions.
Borg explained that another area that he and his team are working on – together with Afshin Beheshti, the principal investigator at the NASA Ames Research Centre, and Christopher Mason, the principal investigator at the Weill Cornell Medicine – is the effect of space on human blood and control of haemoglobin expression.
Addressing the press conference, Bartolo said that science could be used for both good and evil, and through this project, Malta was choosing to go down the good path.
Despite its small size, he said, the country could boat immense skills and talent.
The project was a testament to his ministry’s commitment to supporting, and “giving Maltese talent a chance to develop and reach its full potential on the international stage”.
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