Price: On request
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Domains: cell culture

This Experiment Unit is a device capable of performing automatic cell culture of bacteria in microgravity.

The KEU-BA Experiment Unit is a device capable of performing automatic cell culture of bacteria in microgravity. It is equipped with reservoirs for chemicals (culture medium with activator, fixatives), a culture chamber allowing cell growth and, a reference culture chamber as internal experiment control. The scientific protocol is led by the KEU-BA electronics following a predefined timeline. At the end of the experiment the KEU-BA Experiment Unit can be stowed at controlled temperatures (freezer). After stowage and re-entry on Earth, cell cultures can be recovered and analyzed with molecular biology-based approaches for genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic studies.

  • Fluidic systems: 2
  • Fluidic actuators: 4 (1 is shared)
  • Fluidic actuators type: PLUNGERS
  • Fluidic reservoirs: 4
  • Culture chambers: 2 EFS (main) + 1 REFS (reference)
  • Levels of Containment (LoC): 1
  • Fluidic System Volume: ask for information
  • Automatic control: YES
  • On-Board Electronic Controller: YES (with internal Clock & Timeline)
  • Experiment Unit size: ≈ 80x39x19 mm / ≈ 80x39x29 mm (for expanded version)
  • Experiment Unit mass: ≈ 80 grams / ≈ 113 grams (fully assembled)
  • Fits into: KIC-SL / KIC-SL-E (1 LoC)
  • Compatible Controller: NOT REQUIRED (on-board controller)

So far, the KEU-BA Experiment Unit has been used to study the growth of the Cupriavidus metallidurans CH 34 (ATCC43123), Bacillus turingensis sv. Kurstaki HD73 (ATCC35866) and Pseudomonas putida.

The KEU-BA Experiment Unit is provided with two fluidic systems: the Experiment Fluidic System (EFS) and the Reference Experiment Fluidic Systems (REFS). Two versions (standard and expanded) of the same hardware are available. The KEU-BA expanded version has the same functionalities but handles larger fluid volumes and provides a gas permeable air bag that makes the CC environment aerobic.

Each KEU-BA Experiment Unit (EU) hardware is made of a semicrystalline thermoplastic polymer with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties, and biologically inert. Cross contamination among the fluids chambers are avoided due to proper sealing gaskets. The KEU-BA EU itself provides one Level of Containment (LoC) for both EFS and REFS. LoC is increased to two by using KIC-SL containers class (or KIC-SL-E for the KEU-BA expanded version). The experiment is fully autonomous; all the actions are electrically controlled by a predefined timeline uploaded on the microcontroller. Housekeeping data are recorded during the mission and downloaded at re-entry.

On the whole, the actions performed by the two fluidic systems are led by preloaded spring actuators activated by the control electronics. Such mechanism pushes the pistons inward displacing the fluids (Activator or Fixative) contained into the chemicals reservoirs (Activator or Fixative reservoir) towards the Culture Chamber (CC). Each CC is provided with an expandable membrane to allow fluid injections. Short channels connect independently the reservoirs to the CCs so that cells are activated or fixed (see figures below).

Qualified for:
Manned Flight Carrier (Soyuz) and Manned Flights – Use on ISS

  • 2008 BASE-B PI: Natalie Leys (SCK•CEN Belgian Nuclear Research Centre)
  • 2008 BASE-C PI: Natalie Leys (SCK•CEN Belgian Nuclear Research Centre)



International Space Station



Price estimation

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Timeframe estimation

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