Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF) - 07.29.14
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The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF) was an Italian Space Agency (ASI) facility that supported a series of investigations focused on growing protein crystals in microgravity. Several investigators collaborated on the APCF, contributing samples and evaluating the facility for crystal growth in microgravity.
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Astrium GmbH, Immenstaad, , Germany
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Italian Space Agency (ASI)
ISS Expedition Duration
August 2001 - December 2001
Previous ISS Missions
The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility flew on several space shuttle flights, beginning in 1985.
- The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF) was designed to produce protein crystals in microgravity.
- The results of this study will facilitate advances in manufacturing and biological processes.
Each APCF unit accommodated 48 modular protein crystal growth chambers, or reactors, of which 10 could be observed by a high-resolution video camera. The hardware consisted of a process chamber, power and data electronics, camera electronics, an optical and video system, a thermal control system, and a tape recorder. The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF) reactors were filled in Europe and shipped to the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, 10 days before launch. The reactors were activated after their transfer to EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack 1 on the International Space Station. The facility's processing chamber was maintained at 20 °C, and temperature data were recorded throughout the mission. Camera images in black and white were digitized and stored on the facility tape recorder. Data electronics recorded and stored other information.
On return to Earth, the protein crystals produced in the APCF were examined using crystallography, and computers made the mathematical calculations needed to enable three-dimensional modeling of the proteins' structures.
- The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF) was automated and required little crew interaction. The crew transferred the APCF hardware from the space shuttle to the International Space Station (ISS) and installed the hardware on the ISS.
- Following APCF activation, status checks were performed daily by the crew.
- The APCF was deactivated before it returned to Earth on the space shuttle. Samples were sent to the investigator teams for analysis.
The initial analysis of crystals returned from the Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility indicated that the hardware performed as expected and produced high-quality protein crystals for analysis by the investigator teams.
Ground Based Results Publications
NASA Image: ISS003E8171 - The Advanced Protein Crystal Facility in EXPRESS Rack 1 onboard ISS Expedition 3. Two other experiments, MAMS and SAMS-II, are installed below it.
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