NASA is about to launch the first pharmacology dedicated research satellite into a low Earth orbit on May 5 aboard the Minotaur 1 rocket. As part of NASA’s small satellite program, the PharmaSat nanosatellite weighs only ten pounds and is the size of a loaf of bread. Aboard is a colony of yeast cells continuously monitored by a bunch of sensors while undergoing pharmacological antifungal treatment to study how it is affected by working in space.
Here’s a mission description from the project page:
After PharmaSat separates from the Minotaur 1 rocket and successfully enters low Earth orbit at approximately 285 miles above the Earth, it will activate and begin transmitting radio signals to two ground control stations. The primary ground station at SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., will transmit mission data from the satellite to the spacecraft operators in the mission control center at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. A secondary station is located at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calif. When NASA spaceflight engineers make contact with PharmaSat, which could happen as soon as one hour after launch, the satellite will receive a command to initiate its experiment, which will last 96 hours. Once the experiment begins, PharmaSat will relay data in near real-time up to six months, to mission managers, engineers and project scientists for further analysis.