Biotechnology Temperature Refrigerator


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Facility Overview

This content was provided by John E. Love, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Brief Facility Summary

The Biotechnology Refrigerator supported investigations by providing a thermally controlled environment for samples awaiting return to Earth for scientific analysis during the early building stages of the International Space Station.

Facility Manager(s)

  • John E. Love, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
  • Co-Facility Manager(s)

    Information Pending

    Facility Developer(s)

    Wyle, Integrated Science and Engineering, Houston, TX, United States

    Sponsoring Agency

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Expeditions Assigned


    Previous ISS Missions

    Information Pending

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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    • The Biotechnology Refrigerator is a thermoelectric, temperature-controlled unit that provided 0.53 cubic feet of cold storage at temperatures between 4 and 12 °C for payload activities on the International Space Station.


    The Biotechnology Refrigerator (BTR) supported the Cellular Biotechnology Operations Science System (CBOSS) investigations aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by providing a stable environment for samples before their return to Earth during the early building stages of the ISS.

    The refrigerated volume of the BTR provides 0.53 cubic feet of cold storage at 4 to 12 °C and allows for on-orbit crew access without the use of tools. It is designed so that equipment requiring servicing or maintenance is accessible without the removal of major components. The major components of the BTR are a single stowage locker assembly (middeck locker replacement), front panel controls and displays, a temperature-controlled volume referred to as the tub, and temperature monitoring and control circuitry. The locker is mounted to the Orbiter avionics bay wire tray for space shuttle flight and hard-mounted to the EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) rack backplate on the ISS.

    The BTR uses fan-forced cabin air for cooling; the external BTR surface is cooled via cabin air as well. The BTR does not interface with the Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack Avionics Air Assembly (AAA). Cooling air is drawn in through the front panel ports (i.e., front breather hardware) and exhausted from the side panels of the unit. Cabin air is also used to cool the electronics bay via two box fans mounted near the Electronics Control Board (ECB). The BTR is a single middeck locker replacement payload designed to operate on the space shuttle or the ISS.

    The CBOSS investigations required a suite of interrelated hardware which included the following:

    • The Biotechnology Cell Science Stowage (BCSS) are stowage units designed to safely and efficiently package and transport cellular biotechnology equipment and materials required to conduct experiments onboard the ISS.

    • The Biotechnology Specimen Temperature Controller (BSTC) allows multiple simultaneous experiments studying various types of cells. It is a multicomponent cell incubator intended to grow three-dimensional clusters of cells in microgravity.

    • The Cellular Biotechnology Cryodewar (CBC) stores frozen cell samples until orbit is achieved and the experiments are initiated on the ISS. CBC is a passive device employing absorbed liquid nitrogen as the cryogen.

    • The Gas Supply Module (GSM) supplied a continuous flow of an air/carbon dioxide mixture to the Biotechnology Specimen Temperature Controller to support and maintain the chemical and physiological processes required to sustain cell cultures. The system is mechanical, requiring no electrical power. Two independent supply lines are available for multiple experiment support, and all four of the unit's gas cylinders can be connected to provide a common supply source. The Gas Supply Module can hold up to 634 quarts (600 liters) of gas when charged to 2,575 psi (181 kilograms per centimeter).

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      Facility Operations

      The BTR was transferred from the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station's EXPRESS Rack 4. There was a brief checkout to begin operations, and then minimal crew interaction was required to place samples inside the BTR. The refrigerated volume of BTR provided 0.53 cubic feet of cold storage at 4 degrees C - 12 degrees C. BTR was located in EXPRESS Rack 1, locker 6. It operates on 160 watts of continuous power and and is monitored over the Ethernet connection provided by the rack.

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      Results/More Information

      During operations on the ISS, the crew performed periodic preventive maintenance on BTR components. The BTR performed nominally during operations.

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    • Operated on ISS
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      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
    • NIH BioMed-ISS Meeting, 2009—BTR
    • NIH BioMed-ISS Meeting Video Presentation, 2009—BTR
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      image NASA Image: ISS003E6072 - View of packed syringe samples in the Biotechnology Refrigerator in the U.S. Laboratory/Destiny during Expedition Three.
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      image NASA Image: ISS004E6425 - Interior view of the BTR for the CBOSS experiment located in EXPRESS Rack 4 in the U.S. Laboratory Destiny during ISS Expedition 4.
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