Versatile fluid-mixing device for cell and tissue microgravity research applications

William W. Wilfinger, Carol S. Baker, Elaine L. Kunze, Allen T. Phillips, Roy H. Hammerstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microgravity life-science research requires hardware that can be easily adapted to a variety of experimental designs and working environments. The Biomodule is a patented, computer-controlled fluid-mixing device that can accommodate these diverse requirements. A typical shuttle payload contains eight Biomodules with a total of 64 samples, a sealed containment vessel, and a NASA refrigeration-incubation module. Each Biomodule contains eight gas-permeable Silastic T tubes that are partitioned into three fluid-filled compartments. The fluids can be mixed at any user-specified time. Multiple investigators and complex experimental designs can be easily accommodated with the hardware. During flight, the Biomodules are sealed in a vessel that provides two levels of containment (liquids and gas) and a stable, investigator-controlled experimental environment that includes regulated temperature, internal pressure, humidity, and gas composition. A cell microencapsulation methodology has also been developed to streamline launch-site sample manipulation and accelerate postflight analysis through the use of fluorescent-activated cell sorting. The Biomodule flight hardware and analytical cell encapsulation methodology are ideally suited for temporal, qualitative, or quantitative life-science investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-130
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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