Hardware developed by CU Boulder launched by SpaceX rocket

BOULDER — High-tech space hardware designed and built at the University of Colorado Boulder for biomedical experiments was launched aboard the commercial SpaceX Dragon capsule to the International Space Station early Monday morning.

A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX carried the Dragon capsule into space from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Developed by BioServe Space Technologies, a center headquartered in the aerospace engineering sciences department, the hardware will support experiments ranging from the mitigation of bone loss in space to the effects of low gravity on stem cell-derived heart cells.

The BioServe hardware includes a customized laboratory microscope that will allow researchers on the space station to observe differences between biological structures that have similar levels of transparency, said BioServe’s director Louis Stodieck. In addition, researchers and students at the NASA-sponsored center developed an atmosphere control module that will enable the successful culturing of mammalian cells in orbit.

The bone loss mitigation experiment is being directed by University of Minnesota professor Bruce Hammer to test the accuracy of a new device that simulates microgravity for cell and tissue cultures by manipulating magnetic fields in space.

The heart experiment, led by doctoral student Arun Sharma of Stanford University, is designed to measure shape and behavior changes in heart cells in microgravity, research that has implications for both astronauts and people on Earth.