Life sciences

Ongoing progress in space exploration is posing more and more challenges. In particular, longer and more complex missions are extremely demanding in terms of sustainability. Life sciences research and developments on earth can provide solutions. To this end, OHB System's life sciences department is conducting research into key technologies for use in space.

Main tasks and competencies of the "Life Sciences" department at OHB System AG:

Development and Realisation of Life Sciences Payloads

  • ModuLES (modular life support system), sustainable application in space and on Earth: Phase A/B ongoing
  • Immunolab-C/D, Realization of the Kit Cassette, Part 1 and 2 for use of commercial test kits
  • IVED (In-Vivo Embolic Detector): Phase III B completed
  • WAICO (Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots), fully automatic housing and fixation unit for research at Arabidopsis thaliana seeds in the "BIOLAB" Facility within the European module "Columbus" of the International Space Station (2 Experiments in 2008, 2010): completed
  • C.E.B.A.S.-Minimodul (Closed Equilibrated Biological Aquatic System), an aquatic multispecies system for housing fish, snails and plants; developed under contract of DLR, 3x successfully flown onboard the Space Shuttle (STS-89, STS-90, STS-107): completed
  • BOTEX, on STS-90, gravitation biological investigations on crickets: completed
  • BIOLAB, Realisation of "Life Support Unit" and centrifuge rotors: completed
  • EMCS, Realisation of "Life Support Unit" and centrifuge rotors: completed
  • Biolabor, on STS-55, gravitation biological investigations on plants, fungi, fish and tadpoles: completed

Earth Application

With the AquaHab®-System, a standardised aquatic multispecies system on laboratory scale is available in the laboratory of the OHB System AG for routine application.

Application fields:

  • Ecotoxicology - e.g. prospective risk assessment of chemicals
  • AquaHab® with standardised aquatic test environment (Physiology/Ecophysiology/Genetics/Molecular biology etc.)

Research and Development

Conceptual design and testing of payloads investigating the effect of extreme conditions/ Moon and Mars, etc.) on organisms in total and their physiology

  • In cooperation with the corresponding scientists, concepts for the investigation of different stressors (reduced gravity, radiation, lunar and Martian dust etc.) as well as their combined effects on different biological systems (microorganisms, human cells etc.) are developed.

Aimed sites of operation are:

  • simulation facilities on Earth,
  • the International Space Station

as well as

  • the Moon and other „extraterrestrial Bodies“.

Development of key technologies for application in extreme habitats

Especially longer stays of biological systems and humans in extreme habitats (e.g.  deep sea, Antarctica, space stations, exploration of the solar system) have highest requirements for new, sustainable technologies:

Frequently, approaches to solve problems can be found in the biological sciences (incl. Biomimetics) on Earth, e.g.:

  • CELSS (Closed Ecological Life Support Systems) -
    Bioregenerative Life Support Systems (Mesocosms, small ecosystems) with focus on aquatic habitats
  • Biomimetic strategies (biomimetic surfaces / Smart Surfaces, new biomimetic adhesives, etc.)
  • Alternative energy strategies

Habitats with limited volume and limited transport capabilities back to Earth require furthermore

  • Automatic analysis systems
  • Automatic detection systems
  • etc.