The Dido-3 nanosatellite, weighing just 2.3 kilograms (five pounds), was launched into space Thursday morning. A product of Israeli-Italian collaboration, the shoebox-sized space laboratory is designed to perform experiments and gather medical, biological and chemical data.
Designed by Israeli company Space Pharma with the Israeli and Italian space agencies, the Dido-3 was one of 53 spacecraft from 13 countries launched into space on a Vega rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana in South America, where the local time was Tuesday night.
According to a statement by the Israel Space Agency, the nanosatellite allows for experiments to be conducted economically, with multiple tests conducted simultaneously. Four experiments are to be conducted by the spacecraft, each of which is headed by an Israeli and an Italian researcher. The Israeli researchers represent the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Hashomer Hospital, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
“Space is an optimal place for conducting biological and chemical experiments, and to develop new drugs … [because] bacteria in outer space develop rapid drug resistance due to the extraordinary stress conditions, and a drug that can be shown to effectively combat these strains is likely to easily outperform similar terrestrial bacteria,” the Israel Space Agency statement said.
Researchers will control experiments from a computer or through a cellphone app. Results from the space laboratory will begin to arrive at the control center in Switzerland after two to three weeks and data will be routed to different laboratories and universities.
Space Pharma founder Yossi Yamin said in a statement that he believes that all of the experiments will be completed within two months, “but you never know. Scientists cannot predict what happens in space.”
In 2018, Space Pharma became the first Israeli company to launch a craft into space that successfully returned to Earth; it docked at the International Space Station and upon its return was retrieved from the Pacific Ocean. Dido-3 is set to orbit the Earth in space and is not expected to return.