SpaceX CRS-16: kiwi sends BioScience-4 experiment to ISS

Credits: UCLA/Dr. Espinosa-Jeffrey

This month again, kiwi sent ScienceShell hardware to the International Space Station (ISS) for the mission BioScience-4. As part of the kiwi end-2-end service, Chriss and Maria from the kiwi team supported the scientists with the integration of 6 Type-IV ScienceShells and 4 Space Petri Dishes (8-chamber) ScienceShells at the Kennedy Space Center. After late access handover, the kiwi ScienceShells were launched with SpaceX CRS-16 on Wednesday, December 5, at 18:16 UTC from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The SpaceX Dragon capsule reached the ISS on Saturday where it was captured at about 11:00 UTC.

BioScience-4 investigates the multiplication of the nervous system stem cells in microgravity by testing whether cells from brain and spinal cord divide faster under microgravity conditions. Furthermore, it shall allow the scientists „to study the cell signaling pathways that determines cell function, proliferation, and differentiation.“ The outcomes of this experiment could potentially have benefits for patients on Earth suffering from neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis via cell replacement therapies. First ground experiments performed in microgravity simulators indicated that the cells divide faster under microgravity conditions then they do under the influence normal gravity. 

After docking to the ISS and pressure equalization, the ScienceShells were installed in the STaARS-1 Experiment Facility. Under constant temperature control, the cells now have time to grow and multiply. 

Once the experiment was executed, the ScienceShells will be put into cold stowage on-board the ISS at 4°C until the units are packed into the SpaceX Dragon capsule to return to Earth in January 2019.

More information about the return and the de-integration will follow! 

Credits for picture showing microscopy image of Human Neural Stem Cells cultured for 45 days go to UCLA/Dr. Espinosa-Jeffrey