Colgate-Palmolive intends to send an oral care experiment to the International Space Station (ISS), with the results potentially benefiting more than half of the world’s population within the next decade.
The experiment, which is sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Lab, is designed to explore the bacteria affecting oral and overall health by leveraging space’s unique microgravity environment. ISS crew members will use microfluidic devices developed by the No. 39 consumer goods company and the University of Nevada – Las Vegas to simulate bacterial growth on a tooth-like surface.
The experiment will travel to the ISS aboard the NASA-contracted SpaceX’s CRS-22 mission, to launch “no earlier” than June 3 from Kennedy Space Center. It will return to Earth after a month on the SpaceX Dragon, where Colgate scientists will analyze results and match them to their Earth-bound control samples.
It’s the first of several research projects in space Colgate has planned with the ISS National Lab, and Pat Verduin, Colgate-Palmolive chief technology officer, said the partnership will enable the company to accelerate the science of oral health.
“Colgate’s purpose is to reimagine a healthier future for all people, their pets and the planet,” Verduin said. “We constantly strive to push the limits of research and development — and now we’re pushing even further, into space.”
She added (of course): “This is one small step towards advancing oral health, and one giant leap towards furthering Colgate’s research and development centered around smart health solutions.”
The company, which sells products in more than 200 countries, estimates results of the experiment could benefit more than half of the world’s population in the next five to 10 years.
Colgate isn’t the first CG to join the new type of space race making use of the ISS’s unique environment: Estée Lauder launched its Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex serum into space last fall as part of a marketing campaign. In that case, product photos were taken on the ISS, with the intention of Estee Lauder using them on social media.
Colgate-Palmolive’s work to evolve its innovation process is making headway, as the company looks both internally and externally to propel its digital transformation and seize opportunities beyond core adjacencies.