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Fruit Fly Lab, FFL-01 (SpaceX-5)

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The Fruit Fly Lab is a system that will enable long-duration spaceflight experiments aboard the International Space Station using the widely studied model organism Drosophila melanogaster, or the common fruit fly. Approximately 77% of human disease genes have analogs in the fruit fly genome; studies of fruit flies help us understand the underlying mechanisms of human diseases. Experiments aboard the space station will examine how the lack of gravity and other aspects of the space environment affect these insects, providing information that is relevant to human health.

The Fruit Fly Lab system has three major components. The first is the Cassette that will safely transport fruit flies to the space station. The second is the Food Changeout Platform that will be used to change the fruit fly food without breaching containment and allow extraction of the fruit fly larvae for preservation. The third is the Observation and Lighting System to allow fly behavior monitoring and exposure to an artificial day/night cycle.

The Fruit Fly Lab system will provide long-term housing for fruit flies aboard the space station under conditions of microgravity and 1 g inside a Nanoracks Centrifuge.

The first Fruit Fly Lab mission, FFL-01, will launch aboard a  SpaceX rocket (SpX-5) in 2014. The goal of the first flight is to validate hardware performance, conduct scientific investigations, and demonstrate that the space station crew can perform critical research operations on-orbit. Over a hundred flies will be aboard the space station for a period of up to 30 days.

For more information, visit the Drosophila experiment hardware page and see the Fruit Fly Lab NASA Facts Sheet on this page.

 

Project Manager Kevin Martin, NASA, Ames Research Center
Project Scientist Sharmila Bhattacharya, NASA, Ames Research Center
Deputy Project Manager Matthew Lera, Lockheed Martin, Ames Research Center

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Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster under carbon dioxide anesthesia.
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NASA / Dominic Hart
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Fruit fly Food Changeout Platform with Fly Cassette.
Image Credit: 
NASA / Dominic Hart
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Page Last Updated: July 1st, 2014
Page Editor: Yael Kovo