First DNA sequencing to be conducted from space: Nasa

Flight Engineer Kate Rubins says she's looking forward sequencing DNA for the 'first time ever' from space after she blasts off from earth on June 24.

KAZAKHSTAN - When Kate Rubins blasts off into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station (ISS) later this month, she will be fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, she said on Wednesday (June 1).

Rubins, and her two fellow mission members, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Japan's Takuya Onishi, are scheduled to launch on June 24.

"One of the things I'm most excited about, is called the biomolecule sequencer. We're going to try to, for the first time ever, sequence DNA off the planet in the microgravity environment and I think that's going to be an incredibly fascinating experiment."

Rubins will also be conducting experiments related to the human immune system and how it responds in space.

"Nasa has done some studies that shows that there's a slight decrement in your immune system. So your immune system isn't quite as able to respond to viral or bacterial threats. The mechanism behind this is unknown, and we're pretty interested in understanding what's going on in astronaut immune systems. This could give us some insights into what happens during abnormal immune system behavior here on Earth."

Before being chosen to join Nasa's astronaut program, Rubins was leading a team of 14 researchers studying viral diseases, such as monkeypox and Ebola, in Central and West Africa, which she says will help guide her work on the ISS.