CU-Boulder hardware to fly on first-ever NASA-contracted resupply mission to space station

Oct 06, 2012
Space hardware developed at CU-Boulder is flying on the first ever NASA-contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

A University of Colorado Boulder space center is providing hardware and technical support for scientific experiments aboard the first-ever NASA-contracted resupply flight to the International Space Station, slated for launch Oct. 7 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

, a NASA-funded center in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department, has provided an automated, suitcase-sized incubator carrying fluid-processing devices for use by Montana State University researchers to test how a pathogenic responds to the of . The experiments will fly on the unmanned Dragon cargo spacecraft developed by Space Exploration Technologies X, or , which made history during a May 2012 by becoming the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the , or ISS.

BioServe's incubator, known as a Commercial Generic Apparatus, or CGBA, will provide space support for nearly 130 fluid-processing devices headed for ISS and loaded up with a common pathogen known as Canada albacans, said BioServe Business Development Manager Stefanie Countryman. The pathogen is under study by MSU faculty and students because it can cause localized infections in healthy people but can trigger potentially lethal infections in immune-compromised people.

Previous ground-based studies at MSU and elsewhere have shown C. albicans may become more pathogenic in near-weightless environments, a concern for astronauts whose immune systems can be compromised by working and living in the low gravity of space. The MSU studies are led by Sheila Nielson-Preiss, a former faculty member at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Several BioServe researchers are now at Cape Canaveral helping to integrate the MSU experiments into the space flight hardware that will be loaded onto the Dragon spacecraft in preparation for the Oct. 7 flight. BioServe, which has trained current and former ISS astronauts on how to use its flight hardware, will be available throughout the mission to provide remote support for the experiment as it is conducted on ISS, said Countryman. There currently are two CGBAs built by BioServe flying on ISS.

BioServe is a nonprofit center founded at CU-Boulder in 1987 to develop new or improved products through space life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government, said BioServe Director Louis Stodieck. Since 1991 BioServe has flown more than 50 payloads in space, including 40 on NASA space shuttles before the fleet was retired in 2011.

In addition to space shuttles and ISS, BioServe hardware and experiments have flown on Russia's Mir space station (which operated from 1986 to 2001) two Russian spacecraft, Soyuz and Progress, and the Japanese spacecraft HTV-3. BioServe also has payloads and instruments manifested on a number of space missions launching from around the world in the next several years.

"Just because NASA's space shuttle fleet was retired does not mean we are cutting back on our work here at BioServe," said Countryman. "Our hardware and payloads will continue to fly as we collaborate with NASA, private companies, universities and other institutions, and we expect to play a significant role in the commercialization of space as the private sector ramps up spaceflight activities."

In September, two student space experiments selected as winners of an international science contest sponsored by YouTube, Lenovo and Space Adventures were made "flight-ready" by BioServe researchers and conducted on the ISS under the direction of NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. The experiments were live-streamed back to classrooms around the world.

"We would be unable to carry out all of our research without the help of CU-Boulder students," Stodieck said. "Both undergraduate and graduate students play an important role in designing, building and testing spaceflight payloads, activities that can give them a significant advantage when they move on to careers in the aerospace industry."

Founded in 2002 by former PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk, SpaceX is modifying the current unmanned Dragon spacecraft into a manned craft that the company hopes to use to shuttle astronauts to and from ISS within the next five years. In August, NASA announced up to $900 million in funding for three aerospace companies partnering with the space agency to developed manned spacecraft – SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp., based in Sparks, Nev., and which is developing a spacecraft called the Dream Chaser at its Louisville, Colo., facility.

Explore further: SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies (Update 2)

More information: For more information on BioServe visit www.colorado.edu/engineering/BioServe/index.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Global student space experiments transformed

Sep 11, 2012

(Phys.org)—Space experiments dreamed up by three teenage winners of an international contest that will be streamed live on YouTube from the International Space Station Sept. 13 were made flight-ready by ...

Butterfly payload to launch Nov. 16 on space shuttle

Nov 10, 2009

When NASA's space shuttle Atlantis launches for the International Space Station on Nov. 16 it will carry a University of Colorado at Boulder butterfly experiment that will be monitored by thousands of K-12 ...

Recommended for you

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

10 hours ago

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.