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Space Tango launches microgravity hemp research enterprise

New, dedicated venture to focus on hemp for Earth-based biomedical applications and the future space economy

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Space Tango, a leader in the commercialization of space through R&D, bioengineering and manufacturing in microgravity, on Thursday announced the creation of a new subsidiary enterprise focused on research and development surrounding the plant biology and properties of hemp.

The primary objective of the separate enterprise is the potential enhancement and bioengineering of this novel and versatile plant for Earth-based biomedical applications. Inaugural companies joining Space Tango as partners include Atalo Holdings, providing certified hemp genetics, and Anavii Market, a trusted online retailer of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) therapeutics.

Hemp has a long and storied history as the non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis sativa L. Its cultivation extends back thousands of years for a variety of purposes ranging from textiles and industrial fiber to food and medicines. Kentucky historically has been a major hemp crop and products producer.

The new research enterprise by Lexington-based Space Tango will explore various aspects of hemp but particularly those associated with biomedical and health uses and focusing on enhancing its applications, efficacy and value.

“Each time a new type of physics platform has been successfully harnessed such as electromagnetism, it has led to the exponential growth of new knowledge, benefits to humankind and capital formation,” said Kris Kimel, co-founder and chairman of Space Tango. “Using microgravity, we envision a future where many of the next breakthroughs in healthcare, plant biology and technology may well occur off the planet Earth.”

This project is particularly appealing because hemp is a rapidly emerging industry that by many indications may have considerable, and as of yet, unrealized uses and potential. Work to date has been very intriguing and led to this move, Kimel said.

The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill enabled expanded research and development and planting of industrial hemp for the first time in 70 years. Since the passage of the Farm Bill, research has rapidly accelerated into all areas of fiber, food and medicine. State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has stated that it is his goal to make Kentucky the top hemp research center in the world.

“When we send plants to the International Space Station, we eliminate one core, constant force, to which plants are well-adapted: gravity,” said Dr. Joe Chappell, a member of the Space Tango Science Advisory Team who specializes in drug development and design and has personally conducted microgravity research on the ISS. “When plants are ‘stressed,’ they pull from a genetic reservoir to produce compounds that allow them to adapt and survive. Understanding how plants react in an environment where the traditional stress of gravity is removed can provide new insights into how adaptations come about and how researchers might take advantage of such changes for the discovery of new characteristics, traits, biomedical applicationsand efficacy.”

“We’re proud to join Space Tango in this enterprise and look forward to the breakthroughs we believe will come from the confluence of plant biology and microgravity,” said William Hilliard, CEO of Atalo. Atalo Holdings is a vertically integrated ag-tech company that will provide certified hemp seed and expertise to the venture.

Space Tango develops products and processes that create new industries to improve life on Earth by streamlining research, operation of experiments and manufacturing in microgravity on the International Space Station (ISS).