Bio-Medical Research on Space Station 2020

There are three primary advantages in using a space station for scientific research:

  • Microgravity
  • Vacuum
  • Radiation
This applies as much to microbiology as to any other science,  and microbiologists can use all three conditions to undertake research and to manufacture biological products that are difficult to make on Earth.

One of the primary roles of the Space Station 2020 is bio-medical research.  This includes:

  • The manipulation of organic materials - cells, tissues, and living organisms
  • development of organic computer components
  • produce large, near perfect protein crystals
  • research on insulin
  • producing antibiotics using plant cell cultures
  • improvement of ground-based antibiotic production.
  • cardiac muscle tissue engineering
  • manufacture of special drugs such as Interferon
Some equipment that was specially developed for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.  These two items are likely to still be in use in more advanced forms in 2020.

One of the most useful pieces of experimental equipment that is carried by the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station is the Glovebox.  The Glovebox Experiment Module was designed and built in the United Kingdom by the Brunel Institute for Bio-engineering.  The Glovebox is an enclosed cabinet with hand access via rubber gloves integrated into the box, and a viewing panel to permit the viewer to see what he or she is doing.   Fluids, powders, bioproducts, toxins and irritants are among the materials used by researchers during their investigations.


Bioreactors are closed containers for biological processes.  They provide a completely  controllable environment for the processes to take place.  They may be heated, cooled or pressurized.  Chemicals or additional biological materials to be added and the progress of the processes monitored.  In the future they will play an important role in bio-technology both on Earth and in space.  Successes in space have been achieved aboard the Mir Space Station in 1996 when cartilage was grown in a bioreactor.  This was the first tissue-engineering experiment in space.  The image here shows a recently developed rotating wall bioreactor vessel.  For clarity it is shown without its support equipment.

© All images NASA

Space Station 2020 Biomedical Laboratory

Scientists grow heart tissue in Bioreactor

Teachers Wormhole


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