Startups win $500,000 for zero-gravity tech

The International Space Station serves as an orbiting laboratory. (NASA Photo)

The Boeing Co. and a nonprofit group called the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, have teamed up for the fourth year in a row to provide financial support for orbital entrepreneurship through the MassChallenge startup accelerator program.

This year’s three winning projects will split $500,000 in grants for experiments designed to be done aboard the International Space Station in microgravity, popularly known as zero gravity.

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Space station patch goes all in on Star Wars

The latest mission patch for research payloads intended for the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory has a Star Wars theme. (CASIS / Lucasfilm Graphic)

Factual and fictional worlds collide in the latest mission patch associated with the International Space Station’s role as a U.S. national laboratory.

Virtually every element on the patch ties in to the Star Wars saga, including the droids BB-8, K-2SO and Chopper, as well as the Death Star and a patch border shaped like the Millennium Falcon.

The only nod to real-life space exploration is an outline of the International Space Station itself.

The patch, which represents this year’s research payloads for the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, was unveiled today by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, which oversees the space research that’s handled through the national laboratory system.

CASIS worked closely with Lucasfilm, the keeper of the Star Wars flame, which is gearing up to release “Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi” in December.

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