Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) - 02.13.19

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) is a rack-level payload facility located in the U.S. Laboratory module on the International Space Station (ISS). MSG provides resources such as power, data, video, heat rejection, vacuum, nitrogen and containment for investigations. The facility is well suited for handling hazardous materials when crew are present. MSG is capable of accommodating both physical science and biological research payloads.
Science Results for Everyone This isn’t your father’s Buick’s glovebox. The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) facility on International Space Station has a large front window and built-in gloves, creating a sealed environment to contain liquids and particles in microgravity for science and technology experiments. More than 30 investigations have used the versatile Glovebox, everything from material science to life sciences. Ports are equipped with rugged, sealed gloves that can be removed when contaminants are not present, and video and data downlinks allow experiments to be controlled from the ground. Researchers also use MSG to test small parts of larger investigations and try out new equipment in microgravity.

The following content was provided by Anne E. Garber, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: MSG

Facility Manager(s)
Lee P. Jordan, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Chris Butler, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Hunstville, AL, United States

European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, Netherlands

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

ISS Expedition Duration
June 2002 - December 2002; November 2002 - May 2003; April 2003 - April 2004; April 2006 - September 2006; October 2007 - March 2010; September 2011 - March 2016; March 2016 - September 2017; February 2018 - October 2019

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending


  • Onboard
  • ^ back to top

    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) enables performance of investigations in microgravity that are similar to those carried out in ground-based laboratories. The Glovebox provides a safe, contained environment for the International Space Station (ISS) crew to conduct research with liquids, flames, and particles used as a part of everyday research on Earth. In addition to facilitating complete, laboratory-like investigations, MSG allows scientists to test small parts of larger investigations or try out new equipment in microgravity. MSG accommodates small and medium-sized investigations from disciplines including biotechnology, combustion science, fluid physics, fundamental physics, and materials science.
    MSG occupies a floor-to-ceiling rack inside the U.S. Laboratory of the ISS. The Core Facility occupies the upper half of the rack and includes the work volume (WV), an airlock and avionics. Investigating hardware and related equipment are installed and operated within the WV, which has usable volume of 255L (906 mm wide, 637 mm high, and 442 mm deep). A removable front window facilitates the installation and removal of investigations hardware before and after payload operations. The WV can be sealed and held at a negative pressure (with respect to the crew cabin) via the circulation and filtration of air. Together, the filtered air circulation system and the physical barrier of the work volume structure provide two levels of containment for investigations.
    An airlock beneath the WV can be used to transfer items into the glovebox without breaking containment. Gloves attached directly to 40-cm diameter ports on the facility (two on the front and one on each side) allow the crew to safely manipulate hardware and samples inside the sealed volume.
    Up to 1000W of power is available for payload usage in MSG at voltage levels of 120 Vdc, 28 Vdc, 12 Vdc, and 5 Vdc. Heat dissipation is provided through a combination of coldplate usage and air circulation.
    Vacuum, venting, nitrogen gas input (which can keep the oxygen volume at 10% or less), and data interfaces are also provided within the MSG. A digital video system consists of a self-standing subsystem of four (2 gigE and 2 HDSDI) cameras, two monitors, and two digital recorders integrated into an International Subrack Interface Standard (ISIS) drawer. The command and monitoring panel monitors the facility status and performance and provides for manual operation of MSG by the crew.
    In order to support life science research, MSG provides disposable exam gloves and specialized filters for handling typical life sciences materials. The facility includes an ultraviolet LED decontamination system (installed and removed by the crew as needed) that can provide UV exposure suitable for neutralizing Biological Safety Level BSL-1 and BSL-2 biological agents.
    The development of the MSG on the ISS builds on successes with the Middeck Glovebox and Spacelab Glovebox, both used aboard several space shuttle missions and on the Russian Mir Space Station. The MSG supports larger, more sophisticated investigations than its predecessors, expanding research capabilities. It was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The Glovebox was launched to the space station in June 2002 on space shuttle Endeavor STS-111. Its first full operation investigation was the Solidification Using a Baffle in a Sealed Ampoule (SUBSA).

    ^ back to top


    Facility Operations
    The MSG facility is ground operated by the Payloads Operations Integration Center (POIC) at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Payloads may also operate remotely from different telescience centers located in the United States and throughout the world. The Investigative Payload Integration Manager (IPIM) is the focal point to assist researchers with the integration and operation of payloads in the MSG facility.


    Crew members can safely manipulate items inside the sealed work volume by inserting their hands into gloves attached to any of four glove ports on the front and sides of the facility.


    The walls of the work volume are made of Lexan, allowing the crew to see the investigation equipment inside. MSG provides cameras to monitor and record images of investigation hardware and samples inside the work volume. Optional video monitors are also provided to enable the viewing of multiple camera angles by the crew. Video downlink is available to scientists on Earth for observation of the investigations in real time.

    ^ back to top

    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

    ^ back to top
    Results/More Information

    The MSG has been operating onboard the ISS since July 2002 in support of more than 30 unique investigations for more than 10 years. The MSG has been utilized for a large body of research, including material science, thermal management, protein crystal growth, life sciences, fire detection, combustion, and technology demonstration for ESA, JAXA and NASA. The versatility of the resources MSG provides makes it an ideal platform for microgravity research (Spivey 2006 - 2008).

    Results Publications

      Morris KB, Spivey RA.  An Overview of the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) Facility, and the Gravity-Dependent Phenomena Research Performed in the MSG on the International Space Station (ISS). 59th International Astronautical Congress. Glasgow, Scotland; 2008

      Spivey RA, Jeter LB, Vonk C.  The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG), a Resource for Gravity-Dependent Phenomena Research on the International Space Station (ISS). 45th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, NV; 2007

      Spivey RA, Sheredy WA, Flores GN.  An Overview of The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) Facility, and the Gravity-Dependent Phenomena Research Performed in the MSG on the International Space Station. 46th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, NV; 2008

      Spivey RA, Luz PL.  The Microgravity Science Glovebox as a Platform for Exploration Research on the International Space Station. 44th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit. Reno, NV; 2006

    ^ back to top

    Ground Based Results Publications

    ^ back to top

    ISS Patents

    ^ back to top

    Related Publications

    ^ back to top

    Related Websites

    ^ back to top


    NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson pauses for a photo while working inside the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox (MSG) to conduct the first BioCell media change for the OsteoOmics investigation. Image taken in the Destiny U.S. Laboratory.

    + View Larger Image

    NASA Image: ISS029E040016 - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, Expedition 29 flight engineer, works at the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station.

    + View Larger Image

    NASA Image: ISS008E05029 - Over the shoulder view of European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Pedro Duque as he works at the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) for the Cervantes mission experiment PromISS 2 in the Destiny U.S. Laboratory during joint operations with the Expedition 7 and Expedition 8 crews.

    + View Larger Image

    NASA Image: ISS018E017303 - View of the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox (MSG) with the Shear History Extensional Rheology Experiment (SPHERE) inside.

    + View Larger Image

    NASA Image: ISS008E20622 - Expedition 8 Commander and Science Officer Michael Foale conducts an inspection of the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG).

    + View Larger Image