GREENVILLE, Ind. (May 28, 2021) – When Techshot Inc., launches its newest payload to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX mission CRS-22 June 3, the company’s multi-purpose device known as the Advanced Space Experiment Processor 2, or ADSEP2, will carry 128 live squid for its customer, the University of Florida’s Dr. Jamie Foster.
Dr. Foster’s experiment, titled Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions (UMAMI), examines the effects of spaceflight on the molecular and chemical interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts. Gravity’s role in shaping these interactions is not well understood and microgravity provides the opportunity to improve that understanding. The project uses a simplified symbiosis between the bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, and its symbiotic bacterium, Vibrio fischeri.
Microbes play a critical role in maintaining human health, and disruption of beneficial host-microbe interactions can potentially lead to disease. This investigation could support development of protective measures and mitigation for such alterations to preserve astronaut health on long-duration space missions. This study also could lead to a better understanding of the complex interactions between Earth-bound animals and beneficial microbes, including new and novel pathways that microbes use to communicate with animal tissues. Such knowledge could support identification of ways to protect and even enhance these relationships for better human health and well-being. For more about the UMAMI experiment: https://go.nasa.gov/3vJ3xpW.
The squid are housed inside bags in two lunchbox size cassettes that are inserted in the microwave oven size ADSEP2, which provides power and thermal control to the experiment cassettes. In a first for Techshot, the in-space portion of the research will be completed autonomously by ADSEP2 aboard the uncrewed SpaceX Cargo Dragon capsule, rather than inside the ISS. At the end of the experiment, astronauts will remove the cassettes from ADSEP2 and prepare them for return to Earth at the end of the CRS-22 mission in July.
The ADSEP2 locker itself will be left aboard the ISS as a new commercial resource for industrial and institutional research and manufacturing. Besides squid, ADSEP2 can process a wide variety of other life and physical science materials.
Techshot has manufactured three ADSEP2 units and dozens of experiment cassettes, all of which will continually rotate to and from the station aboard later missions. They are the latest additions to the company’s catalog of flight-proven space research and manufacturing equipment, which also includes two of its first-generation ADSEP units; its 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF); its Bone Densitometer (BD) X-ray machine for live mice; and two of its Multi-use Variable-gravity Platform (MVP) dual-centrifuge units. The BD, and both MVP units, are already aboard the ISS.
Other Techshot payloads for drug manufacturing and cell manufacturing – the Pharmaceutical In-space Laboratory (PIL) and the Cell Factory, respectively – are in development by the company. A prototype of the PIL system is expected to be tested aboard the ISS next year. Besides research with its own equipment, Techshot also manages experiments using NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat and the agency’s two space station furnaces.
Techshot has agreements with NASA and the ISS U.S. National Laboratory that permit it to operate its equipment aboard the station, and manage all aspects of a research or manufacturing campaign for its customers – serving as a one-stop commercial gateway to space. Founded in 1988, the company is headquartered in Greenville, Indiana, and maintains an office at the Space Life Science Laboratory at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Techshot | Flickr photos of ADSEP2 and squid(more…)