Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) - 01.16.19

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) supports a wide variety of investigations 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 investigations. It can be fitted to provide 5% CO2 (or any required concentration of CO2 ) for cell cultures or other types of investigations and has two USB 2.0 ports and two ethernet LAN connections. It also has switchable 28vdc and 5vdc power supplies for investigation 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 ALAN 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 - March 2019

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending


  • Onboard
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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) is BioServe's upgrade to its long standing incubator, Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA). Ultimately, SABL replaces the CGBAs that BioServe 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 that requires less crew time to access the research volume of SABL and enables access to the internal volume without power down. 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 investigations. 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 (three dimensional cell aggregates and tissues useful for regenerative medicine studies). Education investigations studying the development and behavioral adaptations of small organisms such as insects, spiders, small plants, and newts, etc. are now within SABL.
    The range of research made possible using SABL is limited only by the imagination of researchers and by the various investigation-specific hardware housed inside SABL. BioServe has an extensive array of investigation-specific hardware: Group Activation Packs (GAPs); Fluids Processing Apparatuses (FPAs); Single well and 6-well and 12-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 use SABL for temperature control and overall experiment support. Any modern instrument that is compatible with USB connectivity can be integrated into SABL with relative ease. This functionality alone opens the door to many future analytical tools 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; simplifying the structural interfaces and reducing installation crew time requirements. SABL has a front door to access its 23 liters of investigation volume, a larger volume than the current CGBA transportation system. This volume houses up to 18 BioServe Group Activation Packs (GAPs), 24 to 36 BioCells or 4  to 6 BioCell Habitats or PHABS. The front-load feature permits efficient crew access to the investigations housed inside SABL 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 investigations, focusing camera systems, changing investigations parameters, changing facility temperature set-points or temperature profiles, etc. This interface also permits the crew to view the camera outputs (when activated) to observe the investigations contained inside of SABL. These many operational efficiencies optimize crew time so that a crew member can focus on research and less on the use of the facility. SABL incorporates the Software Toolkit for Ethernet Lab-Like Architecture (STELLA) and Telescience Resource Kit (TRek) software. The STELLA provides 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 serves as a backup cold stowage unit for MERLIN or other refrigerator/freezer payloads. Its temperature range is -5°C to +30°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 supports the same types of research that were supported using the CGBA facility over the last two decades, but with a more crew-friendly system and with enhanced capabilities.
    There are currently three SABLs operational onboard ISS.  Since its initial installation, SABL has successfully supported 17 life science investigations and two physical science investigations.

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    Facility Operations
    SABL is operated remotely. The crew installs/uninstalls experimentinvestigations from the internal volume of SABL by opening the SABL door. SABL can remain powered if internal investigations are passive. Remote operations can control power, temperature and other aspects of automated operation, if needed.

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    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

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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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