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MUSC Chosen for Polaris, SpaceX Collaboration

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Polaris Dawn, the first of the Polaris Program’s three human spaceflight missions, announced the extensive suite of science and research experiments the crew and SpaceX will conduct throughout the mission. The selected projects are designed to advance both human health on Earth and on future long-duration spaceflights.

Medical University of South Carolina is one of 23 institutions with which Polaris Dawn and SpaceX will collaborate on the experiments.

“The mission profile of Polaris Dawn affords us some great opportunities to expand our collective knowledge about the human body in space and associated applicability here on Earth,” said Jared Isaacman, mission commander.

“Our science and research agenda will enhance the body of knowledge for future long-duration spaceflight which will take us back to the Moon and on to Mars; as well as progress our knowledge and understanding for humankind here on Earth. The Polaris Dawn team along with the exceptional science and research team at SpaceX cast a wide net to find the best experiments to fly with us.”

SpaceX is targeting no earlier than March 2023 for Falcon 9’s launch of the Polaris Dawn mission from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Over the course of five days, Dragon and the Polaris Dawn crew will endeavor to travel to 1,400 kilometers – the highest Earth orbit ever flown – and attempt the first-ever commercial spacewalk.

Many of the selected research projects take advantage of this unique mission profile, including the relatively high-radiation levels due to the high-altitude orbit and exposure to hard-vacuum during the spacewalk. Such projects include the use of ultrasound to measure changes to the eye’s structure in microgravity; investigating the effects of microgravity, magnetic, and fungal influences on root growth of low-Earth orbit germinating plants to help inform plant growth procedures; and expanding on-orbit medical capabilities, including the development of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedures for use in the Dragon spacecraft.

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.