Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) - 03.28.18

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

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Science Objectives for Everyone
The Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) supports a wide variety of experiments in the life, physical and material sciences with a focus on supporting research of biological systems and processes. It has over 23 liters of temperature controlled volume with LED lighting for scientific hardware and experiments. It can be fitted to provide 5% CO2 for cell cultures and has 2 USB 2.0 ports and 2 ethernet LAN connections. It also has switchable 28vdc and 5vdc power supplies for experiment use.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Stefanie Countryman, M.B.A., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details


Facility Manager(s)
Louis S. Stodieck, Ph.D., University of Colorado, BioServe Space Technologies, Boulder, CO, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Mark Rupert, University of Colorado, BioServe Space Technologies, Boulder, CO, United States

BioServe Space Technologies, Boulder, CO, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2015 - March 2016; March 2016 - August 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending


  • Onboard
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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    Space Automated Biproduct Laboratory (SABL) is BioServe's upgrade to its long standing incubator, Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA). Ultimately, SABL replaces the two CGBAs BioServe has had on board the International Space Station (ISS) since 2001. SABL takes advantage of the rear avionics cooling system and water loop heat rejection capabilities of the ISS.  In addition, SABL is a front access facility which requires less crew time to access the research volume of SABL.  SABL also provides enhanced data capabilities. 

    SABL supports a wide variety of fundamental, applied and commercial space life sciences research, as well as education-based, investigations and  physical and material science experiments.  SABL is capable of supporting life science research in the areas of microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, viruses, etc.), small organisms, animal cells and tissue cultures and small plants.  The facility supports research on model organisms such as Escherichia coli (bacteria), saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast), Caenorhabditis elegans (nematodes), Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies), Arabidopsis thaliana (brassica plant) and others. Furthermore, SABL supports research into the effects of microgravity on pathogenic bacteria (alterations in virulence), fermentation processes (bacterial production of drugs and other compounds of interest), mammalian cell behavior (bone, muscle, heart and immune system cells, for example) and tissue formation and growth (3-D cell aggregates and tissues useful for regenerative medicine studies).  Education experiments studying the development and behavioral adaptations of small organisms such as insects, spiders, small plants, newts, etc. will be made possible. 

    The range of research made possible using SABL is limited only by the imagination of researchers and by the various experiment-specific hardware that could be housed inside SABL.  BioServe has an extensive array of experiment-specific hardware:  Group Activation Packs (GAPs), Fluids Processing Apparatuses (FPAs), Single well and 6-well BioCells, Plate Habitats (PHabs), insect habitats, plant growth habitats, camera modules and more that are fully compatible with SABL.  In addition, other payload organizations can utilize SABL for temperature control and overall experiment support. Any modern instrument that is compatible with USB connectivity will be able to be integrated into SABL with relative ease.  This functionality alone opens the door to many future analytical tools that could be used on board the ISS to reduce or eliminate the need to return samples to the ground for analysis.
    SABL is designed as a front-load payload; this simplifies the structural interfaces and reduces installation crew time requirements.  SABL has a front door to access its 23 liters of experiment volume, which is larger in volume to the current CGBA transportation system (23 liters of volume).  This volume houses up to 18 BioServe Group Activation Packs (GAPs), 52 BioCells or 6 BioCell Habitats or PHABS.  The front load feature permits efficient access to the experiments housed inside SABL by the crew for installation/de-installation and routine operations.  SABL has a simple crew interface (touchscreen) on the front of the payload for such operations as activating/de-activating experiments, focusing camera systems, changing experiment parameters, changing facility temperature set-points or temperature profiles, etc.  This interface also permits the crew to view the camera outputs (when employed) to observe the experiments contained inside of SABL.  These many operational efficiencies optimize crew time so that a crew member can focus more time on research and less on the use of the facility. SABL incorporates the STELLA and TReK software.   The STELLA enables the interface of SABL to the ISS Command and Data Handling subsystem. TRek enables BioServe to communicate with SABL from its own Payload Operations and Command Center  (POCC). 
    SABL can serve as a backup cold stowage unit for MERLIN or other refrigerator/freezer payloads.  It has a temperature range of -5°C to +40°C.  SABL can store perishable food or perishable medications.  In addition, SABL is designed to efficiently “recharge” phase change materials used in NASA’s Cold Bricks for Cold Bag transport of samples or other materials from the ISS to Earth.  SABL can charge the Cold Bricks used for 4ºC and the recently developed 37ºC transport temperatures or any required temperature in between.

    In essence, SABL will support the same types of research that have been supported using the CGBA facility over the last decade, but with a more crew-friendly system and with enhanced capabilities.

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    Facility Operations
    Information Pending

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    Decadal Survey Recommendations

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    Results/More Information

    Information Pending

    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites

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    Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) incubator used aboard the International Space Station to conduct cell culture and other biological experiments.

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    NASA Image: ISS048E042382 - Documentation of Polar facility 2 installed in the Expedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station (ExPRESS) Rack 8, LAB1P4, in the Destiny U.S. Laboratory. Part number (P/N) is CBSE-F10120-1, serial number (S/N) is 008, barcode is POLAR008J. The newly-installed Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratories (SABL) 1 and 2, and Strata-1 are also in view.

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    image NASA Image: ISS048E042380 - View of the Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) Short Tray inside the SABL 2 following installation of the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Incubator Controller. Image was taken during Heart Cells experiment setup in the Destiny U.S. Laboratory.
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