International Commercial Experiment Cubes Facility (ICE Cubes Facility) - 10.04.18

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The International Commercial Experiment Cubes (ICE Cubes) Facility is a capable experiment platform that offers flexibility to host many different experiments for research, technology demonstration or educational objectives. During flight, users are able to have near real-time telemetry and telecommanding capabilities with the Experiment Cube from any location with an internet connection. The ICE Cubes service provides fast and direct access to the International Space Station (ISS) for any any country, any institute or any entity.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Hilde Stenuit, Ph.D., Iobke Zuijderduijn, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: Ice Cubes

Facility Manager(s)
Hilde Stenuit, Ph.D., Space Applications Services, Noordwijk, Netherlands
Iobke Zuijderduijn, ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands

Facility Representative(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s)
Space Applications Services, Belgium

Sponsoring Space Agency
European Space Agency (ESA)

Sponsoring Organization
European Space Agency

ISS Expedition Duration
February 2018 - October 2018

Expeditions Assigned
55/56

Previous Missions
Information Pending

Availability
Information Pending

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Facility Description

Facility Overview

The ICE Cubes Facility (ICF) is composed of:
  • The Framework, which accommodates up to 20 Experiment Cubes, and provides power and data/commands connectivity.
  • The structural Container, is installed and mechanically fastened inside the hosting rack on board Columbus.
  • External harnesses and hoses (if any), as necessary, to interface the Columbus rack electrical jumpers and thermal control parts.
  • Removable mass memory storage devices, namely the Solid State Drives (SSDs) and USB flash drives necessary to host the operational software and to physically download the scientific data.
  • The Experiment Cubes are standardized plug-and-play research modules (starting from 1U = 10cm × 10cm × 10cm), or modular combinations of that basic size (up to 4 × 3U = 45cm × 35cm ×11cm).
The Framework
The Framework is the central unit that accommodates each Experiment Cube and offers services such as power, connectivity and data storage. It offers:
  • Up to 20 active locations (power + gigabit Ethernet) for the accommodation and management of “internal” Experiment Cubes, each location is equipped with one DB13W3 female receptacle.
  • One active location (in the front) for the accommodation/interfacing of an Experiment Cube located externally to the ICF and connected via a cable (see Fig. 5).
  • One Wireless Access Point (WAP) for the management of free floating Experiment Cubes hosted in Columbus and connected via a private Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) generated by the ICF.
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (in the front) used, e.g. for connecting USB flash drives.
  • One auxiliary LAN connector (RJ45 port).
The system, including the Experiment Cubes, is monitored and operated from the ground (ICE Cubes Mission Control Centre and User Home Bases for each of the users).
 
Nominal interventions of the astronauts are limited to activation of power switch, exchange of Experiment Cubes and, if requested, installing/removing the SSD and USB flash drives used for collection of large amounts of scientific data physically downloaded to ground.
 
“Internal” Experiment Cubes
The “Internal” Experiment Cubes (hereafter referred to as “Experiment Cubes” or “Cubes”) can vary per experiment, but need to meet basic interface requirements with the Framework such as: modular size, weight, interface, maximum allowable power, etc.
 
The size of the Experiment Cubes is set to mimic the CubeSat standard, i.e. 10cm × 10cm × 10cm (1 litre) for a 1U Experiment Cube, 20cm × 10cm × 10cm for a 2U Experiment Cube, etc. with one principal difference: the Experiment Cubes can be scaled along two axes in order to offer more flexibility to customers up to 45cm × 35cm × 11cm.
 
The Experiment Cubes can be functionally interconnected via the network offered by the Framework. The ICF housekeeping and the scientific data is stored on a removable SSD and is downlinked to ground according to the capabilities offered by the ISS infrastructure.
 
Different voltages (5V and/or 12V) and power profiles are available for each Experiment Cube location.
 
“External” Experiment Cubes and Other Payloads
For “External” Experiment Cubes or other payloads to be physically accommodated outside the ICF and connected via Wi-Fi or via the front DB13W3 female receptacle of the Framework, please contact the ICE Cubes service.
 
The concept for the accommodation of wired external payloads is shown in Image 5. The “external” Cube could, for example, be attached via a bogen arm to the seat track next to the ICF.
 
Thermal Cooling
The ICF thermal dissipation concept is based on forced air cooling provided by the hosting rack. The warm air is sucked from air outlets located on the rear panel of the Container, while the cold air enters from the inlets on the side walls of the Container.

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Operations

Facility Operations

  • ICE Cubes is a fast, simple and cost effective way to fly experiments to the International Space Station (ISS)
  • ICE Cubes is particularly suited for:
    1. Raising the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of components by in orbit demonstration
    2. Any scientific research related to the microgravity or space environment
    3. Industrial R&D activities
    4. STEM education.

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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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Imagery

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ICE Cubes Facility closed and open views. Image courtesy of Space Application Services.

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Framework. Image courtesy of Space Application Services.

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Framework with one 2Ux2U Experiment Cube. Image courtesy of Space Application Services.

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1U Experiment Cube with protruding male DB13W3 connector. Image courtesy of Space Application Services.

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Accommodation of wired external payload (concept). Image courtesy of Space Application Services.

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Schematics of the forced air cooling inside the ICF Container. Image courtesy of Space Application Services.

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NASA Image: ISS056E005012 - ICE Cubes Facility (ICF) in the Columbus European Physiology Module (EPM) rack. Experiment Cube #0, Part Number (P/N): ICU-SA-01.01.05.01, Barcode: 00245596E. Photo taken by Expedition 56 crew.

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NASA Image: ISS056E005017 - ICE Cubes Facility (ICF) in the Columbus European Physiology Module (EPM) rack. Photo taken by Expedition 56 crew.

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