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Cancer research gets a $500,000 boost in orbit

Image: International Space Station
The International Space Station serves as a platform for microgravity research. (NASA photo)

For the fifth year in a row, Boeing and the International Space Station’s U.S. national laboratory are partnering to pay out up to $500,000 in grants for startup research in orbit.

The three projects selected this year through the Boston-based MassChallenge “Technology in Space” competition focus on zero-gravity research aimed at developing and testing cancer therapies for use on Earth.

Boeing and the ISS National Lab — managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS — have awarded a total of $2.5 million to 14 companies since 2014. Many of the previous awardees have already launched investigations to the space station, including cancer research conducted by Angiex and Ras Labs’ experiments with synthetic muscles for prosthetic devices.

The grants provide seed funding to startups and assist with hardware costs associated with flights to the space station. Boeing is involved in part because it’s the primary U.S. contractor for the International Space Station.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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