Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 2 August 2019 – 3D Bioprinting

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 5, 2019
Filed under , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 2 August 2019 – 3D Bioprinting
Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA works with the BioFabrication Facility that will soon be tested for its ability to print organ-like tissues. Credit: NASA.

The Expedition 60 crewmembers are busy conducting new and advanced science experiments today aboard the International Space Station.
A U.S. space freighter will begin its secondary mission after it departs the station on Tuesday.

3-D bioprinting in space may become a viable platform in the future for fabricating human organs. NASA astronaut Christina Koch activated the new BioFabrication Facility in the morning testing its ability to print cells.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague is researching the thermophysical properties of ultra-heated materials in microgravity and installed samples into the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. He then fueled up the Bioculture System to support the Cell Science-02 bone healing and tissue regeneration study.

Hague and Koch are also training for next week’s robotic release of the Cygnus space freighter after 109 days in space. Cygnus will depart the station Tuesday and eject a set of CubeSats for space research after it reaches a safe distance from the station. The commercial cargo craft will orbit Earth for a few months of systems tests and nanosatellite deployments before its fiery, but safe atmospheric destruction above the Pacific Ocean.

Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano continued to explore how microgravity affects their ability to grip and manipulate objects. The GRIP study, from the European Space Agency, may inform the design of future spacecraft control devices and interfaces.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov continue configuring the new Progress 73 resupply ship and offloading its new cargo. The duo also took turns servicing Russian science hardware and life support systems.

On-Orbit Status Report

BioFabrication Facility (BFF) Test Print: Today the crew installed the test print cassette, performed a syringe swap, then removed the test print cassette following the BFF printing ops. This was done in support of the first test print using cells in the BFF. During the ground-commanded BFF operations, there was an accidental release of the “ink” material inside the printing volume. The teams are considering a cleanup plan. Using 3D biological printers to produce usable human organs has long been a dream of scientists and doctors around the globe. However, printing the tiny, complex structures found inside human organs, such as capillary structures, has proven difficult to accomplish in Earth’s gravity environment. To overcome this challenge, Techshot designed their BFF to print organ-like tissues in microgravity, acting as a stepping stone in a long-term plan to manufacture whole human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.

Cell Science-02 (CS-02): The crew replaced the used gas supply with a new gas supply in the CS-02/Bioculture System. There were some initial difficulties installing the new unit due to possible cable interference, but this was resolved and the unit was successfully installed. The ground team subsequently reported seeing good telemetry from the new unit. The CS-02 investigation uses osteoblast progenitor cells isolated from mouse bones to investigate the effects of microgravity on osteoblast cellular processes at the molecular and biochemical level. CS-02 uses a computational biology omics approach to investigate how osteoblasts respond to treatment with two known osteo-inductive factors.

Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) Controller Installation: The crew performed a sample cartridge controller installation. JAXA’s ELF is an experimental facility designed to levitate, melt and solidify materials by containerless processing techniques using the electrostatic levitation method. With this facility thermophysical properties of high temperature melts can be measured and solidification from deeply undercooled melts can be achieved. ELF typically processes oxide samples, but is also capable of processing semiconductors, alloys, and metals.

Gravitational References for Sensimotor Performance: Reaching and Grasping (GRASP): Today the crew completed the GRASP Free-floating science sessions. The GRIP experiment consists of 3 protocols: Dynamics Seated, References Seated and References Supine. They are performed in 3 separate sub-sessions. ESA’s Grip investigation tests how the nervous system takes into account the forces due to gravity and inertia when manipulating objects. Results from this investigation may provide insight into potential hazards for astronauts as they manipulate objects in different gravitational environments. They also support design and control of haptic interfaces to be used in challenging environments such as space, and provide information about motor control that will be useful for the evaluation and rehabilitation of impaired upper limb control in patients with neurological diseases.

Nanoracks Mod-82 photos: The crew removed the NanoRacks Module-82 from NanoRacks Frame 3 and took pictures of contents of module. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Palm Tree Growth Experiment examines germination of palm tree seeds in order to determine the best conditions for generating tissue samples for research. A process for growing healthy plant tissue in microgravity could be adapted for testing other indigenous plants of scientific, commercial or educational interest in the UAE. The investigation also observes and documents root growth in microgravity for educational purposes.

SlingShot: The crew installed SlingShot Controller inside the NG-11 vehicle in preparation for SlingShot Deployer installation. NG-11 will host the second mission for Slingshot, which is planned to deploy four satellites. In addition to the deployed satellites, one payload will remain attached to Slingshot. SlingShot is a small satellite deployment system that fits inside the Cygnus spacecraft’s Passive Common Berthing Mechanism (PCBM). SlingShot can accommodate up to 18 satellites that are deployed post Cygnus unberth.

Cygnus Robotics Onboard Trainer (RoBOT): In preparation for NG-11 release, the crew performed a session of RoBOT training during which they practiced three release runs. Cygnus departure is scheduled for next Tuesday, August 6.

Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Ops: Yesterday afternoon, Robotics Ground Controllers powered up Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) and un-grappled the SpX-18 Dragon vehicle which is berthed to Node 2 Nadir. The SSRMS was then used to grapple the NG-11 Cygnus vehicle which is berthed to Node 1 Nadir in preparation for release next Tuesday.

Completed Task List Activities:
Empty CTB pantry
FIT update iPad 1012
Laptop battery R&R
Cygnus departure OBT
Thermal Amine power cycle
WRS filter label
WSS condensate pump terminate
WSS CWCi pump swap

Ground Activities: All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
LSR configure for ops
Payloads ops support

Look Ahead:
Saturday, 8/3 (GMT 215)

Cell Science-02
Food Acceptability
Lighting Effects
Standard Measures

Crew off duty, housekeeping

Saturday, 8/3 (GMT 216)

ADSEP OBT review
BFF OBT and procedure review
Lighting Effects

Crew off duty

Monday, 8/4 (GMT 217)

BFF print
Lighting Effects
Time Perception

Cygnus Egress and Hatch Closure

Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Lighting Effects Sleep Log Entry
IMS Delta File Prep
ODF update on iPad and Samsung laptops
Preparation of reports for Roscosmos website and social media
Video Recording of Greetings
Photography of space behind SM panels
ECON-M. Observation and Photography
Preventive Maintenance of SM Ventilation Subsystem. Group ?
BioFabrication Facility Test Print With Cells Install
Inventory Management System (IMS) conference
BFF MERLIN Sample Removal
BioFabrication Facility MELFI Sample Retrieve
BioFabrication Facility Test Print With Cells Install
XF305 Camcorder Setup
Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) Sample Cartridge Controller Installing
On MCC Go De-installing Progress 442 (DC1) Docking Mechanism
Telescience Resource Kit Laptop Shutdown
Cell Science 02 Gas Supply Change Out
On-board Training (OBT) Cygnus Review
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Preventive Maintenance of SM Ventilation Subsystem. Group ?
On-board Training (OBT) Cygnus Review
On-board Training (OBT) Cygnus Robotics Onboard Trainer (ROBoT) Release Session
Gather Vestibule Outfitting Kit (VOK)
FOTOBIOREACTOR. Visual inspection with photography
R&R Pretreat and Water Dispenser (????) and the line
BioFabrication Facility Cleaning Syringe Install
Private Family Conference (PFC)
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
BioFabrication Facility Test Cassette Removal
Atmosphere Control and Supply (ACS) Oxygen Manual Valve Open
BFF MERLIN Sample Insertion
Reminder Rodent Research Thermal Consideration
Reminder Standard Measures Multi-day Saliva Collection

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