Moon Mission Preparations: DNA Preservation and Rocket Testing

Ethanol precipitation for DNA extraction

LifeShip’s first mission to the Moon is progressing! We are excited to share updates on how it’s all coming together. Boarding for this mission is now closed, and launch is anticipated for late 2021. 

Processing and Extracting DNA

The DNA of cosmic explorers on the inaugural mission has been processed and extracted at a state-of-the-art biotechnology lab in Berkeley, California.

Ethanol precipitation for DNA extraction

Performing an ethanol precipitation for DNA extraction. Credit: Andrew Reiland

We used a standard ethanol precipitation extraction process to break open the cells and clump the DNA together. We then removed all the leftover cell material and centrifuged the remaining liquid to create a small pellet of DNA.

Processing DNA
Processing DNA from sample collection cards. Credit: Andrew Reiland

This pellet of DNA was preserved on a substrate, and is now getting integrated in Synthetic Amber Polymer (SAP) within a capsule made by our partners at Arch Mission Foundation in the Lunar Library II payload to go to the Moon.

Testing the Rocket

Meanwhile, the rocket is being prepared, and launch is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

Pathfinder first stage ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket

A pathfinder first stage of the ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket arrives in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for testing. Credit: United Launch Alliance

A test version of the Vulcan Centaur rocket departed ULA's factory in Decatur, Alabama, and shipped by truck and boat to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket goes vertical

ULA Vulcan rocket goes vertical for testing. Credit: United Launch Alliance

The rocket was hoisted vertical at the Space Launch Complex (SLC) pad 41 and is undergoing tests. This historic pad was previously used to launch the Voyager deep-space missions—the only human-made objects to leave the solar system. The Golden Record is on the Voyager spacecraft, which contains a hopeful message from humanity to whoever finds it, and serves as inspiration for LifeShip's mission.

Blue Origin BE-4 rocket engine

Blue Origin BE-4 liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled rocket engine. Credit: Blue Origin

The first stage of the Vulcan rocket is powered by two BE-4 engines manufactured by Blue Origin. These operate on liquified natural gas (LNG) and can produce 2,400 kN (550,000 lbf) of thrust.

Staying in Touch

Keep your eye on this Mission Control blog, as well as your inbox (if you’re already booked on a LifeShip mission), for continuing updates. We’ll stay in touch about how the missions are progressing and what we can all look forward to as we continue the story of humanity. Thank you for being part of LifeShip’s mission to preserve Earth’s genetic code and spread life to the stars! 


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