Life Sciences Glovebox Heading to Space Station

"The Life Sciences Glovebox is on its way to the space station to enable a host of biological and physiological studies, including new research into microgravity's long-term impact on the human body," asid Yancy Young, project manager of the glovebox at Marshall Space Flight Center.

NASA reported Sept. 24 that its Life Sciences Glovebox is "officially the largest flight hardware ever launched in a 'soft-stowed' configuration in which the equipment is packed securely in protective foam." The glovebox is en route to the International Space Station, being carried there by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's H-IIB rocket with a planned arrival on Sept. 27.

The Life Sciences Glovebox will allow hardware specialists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and partners around the world to conduct high-value biological research in Earth orbit. "The Life Sciences Glovebox is on its way to the space station to enable a host of biological and physiological studies, including new research into microgravity's long-term impact on the human body," Yancy Young, project manager of the glovebox at Marshall, said in NASA Marshall's news release. "This versatile facility not only will help us better protect human explorers on long voyages into deep space, but it also could aid medical and scientific advances benefiting the whole world."

Boeing engineers at Marshall modified a refrigerator-freezer rack to house the core facility and used 3D printing to design key pieces of the rack to secure the unit in its protective foam clamshell, according to the release, which said the glovebox will be transferred to a zero-gravity stowage rack in the space station's Kibo module, where up to two crew members can conduct one or more experiments simultaneously, overseen in real time by project researchers on Earth.

The JAXA H-IIB rocket was launched Sept. 22 from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The release said NASA is now determining the roster of science investigations lined up to make use of the glovebox starting as soon as late 2018. "We've already got more than a dozen glovebox experiments scheduled in 2019, with many more to follow," said Chris Butler, payload integration manager for the glovebox at Marshall. "That's OK with all of us. We love to be busy."

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    July/August 2019

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