Press Release

University of Zurich Announces Successful Launch and Return of First International, Commercial Experiment Processed at Space Florida’s SLSL

By SpaceRef Editor
June 3, 2014
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Space Florida and the University of Zurich, Switzerland are pleased to announce the successful launch and return of the first international, commercial experiment processed at the Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL) at Exploration Park, Florida.

The “CELLBOX Experiment” was processed and launched through a partnership between the German Space Agency (DLR), Astrium and NanoRacks. CELLBOX launched aboard the SpaceX CRS-3 Mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 18, 2014. CELLBOX investigated microgravity-associated long-term alterations in primary human macrophages, which are responsible for attacking, and killing bacteria and other foreign and pathogenic intruders in the human body. The immune system is one of the most affected systems of the body during space flight and cells of the immune system are exceptionally sensitive to microgravity. CELLBOX successfully returned from the ISS and is currently being examined at the University of Zurich. 

“For several years, we have tried to understand how the architecture and function of human cells is related to gravitational force,” said Professor Oliver Ullrich, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Zurich and Principal Investigator of the project. “After studying the effects of microgravity in very short parabolic flights and suborbital experiments, it was time to track the entire process on board the ISS. Space Florida’s SLSL facility provided the lab environment and technical support we needed to prepare this critical payload for flight.”

“The Space Life Sciences Lab is perfectly equipped to handle the processing of unique ISS-bound research payloads for commercial companies and university programs,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “We were pleased to see the successful preparation, launch and return of this experiment and look forward to working with more commercial programs at the SLSL to prepare space-bound research for launch.”

Professor Ullrich and his team plan to return to the Space Life Sciences Laboratory later in 2014, in preparation for another research mission on SpaceX CRS-6, currently set to launch to the ISS no earlier than December.

To learn more about Space Florida’s Space Life Sciences Laboratory, visit www.spaceflorida.gov.  

SpaceRef staff editor.