Return of MMARS2 hardware from ISS and De-Integration at the International Space University 

Today, the kiwi team supported the scientists at the International Space University (ISU) in Strasbourg with the sample extraction and de-integration of the MMARS-2 experiment, also called Hydra-2. The experiment hardware was composed of flight as well as ground reference models, existing of two InnerShells of the type 8-chamber Space Petri Dishes and eight InnerShell 4-chamber Space Petri Dishes. 

After another storybook launch of the SpaceX Flacon 9 rocket, the experiments were transported to the International Space Station (ISS) in the course of the Crew Resupply Mission (CRS) 15 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral. MMARS2 utilized kiwi’s full modular concept: one 8-chamber and four 4-chamber ScienceShells were placed inside a ScienceBox that was installed in the ICE Cubes facility in the European Columbus module on-board the ISS. The kiwi ScienceBox is a 10x10x10 cm cube weighing less than 1 kg that can be used for both scientific experiments and technology demonstrations.

 The project MMARS-2 investigates on the influence of microgravity on methane-producing microorganisms (methanogens), continuing the investigations of MMARS-1 which was launched with kiwi in 2017.

 The de-integration of all units, including extraction of gas samples and experiment fluids only took about 5 hours. It is the last step of kiwi’s end-2-end service, where the scientists can focus on the success of the experiment while the kiwi team takes care of the mission. In the next steps, the samples will be sent to US labs for further investigations while the disassembled hardware will be cleaned and prepared for the next mission!