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Scientists and payload developers can get more information on International Space Station research facilities by contacting the ISS Payloads Office or at 281-244-6187.

Refrigerated Centrifuge (RC)


Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

Facility Overview

This content was provided by Cynthia P. Haven, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Brief Facility Summary

The Refrigerated Centrifuge (RC), located in the Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) will allow the collection and in situ processing, such as density-based separation of fluid samples, which is integral to many biomedical experiments and to flight medicine in microgravity.

Facility Manager(s)

  • Cynthia P. Haven, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
  • Co-Facility Manager(s)

    Information Pending

    Facility Developer(s) Information Pending

    Sponsoring Agency

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Expeditions Assigned


    Previous ISS Missions

    RC was launched with the Human Research Facility - 2 (HRF-2) during Expedition 11.

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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    • The Refrigerated Centrifuge (RC) is a device that is used to separate biological substances of varying densities by spinning at a high rate.

    • The six chamber RC rotor chamber can hold samples sized from 2 to 50-ml. The twenty-four chamber RC rotor can hold samples sized from 0.5 to 2.2 ml. The speed can be selected from 500 to 5000 revolutions per minute (rpm) for 1 to 99 minute durations, or it can be set to run continuously.

    • The RC was designed to provide refrigeration with temperatures that range from ambient ISS temperature to 4 degrees C, but currently, the on-orbit unit is not cooling.


    The Refrigerated Centrifuge (RC) is a mechanical device used to separate biological substances of differing densities. During on-orbit operations, the RC is mounted in the Human Research Facility - 2 (HRF-2) 12-panel unit (PU), active drawer.

    The centrifuge was designed to be capable of maintaining a rotor chamber temperature to +4 degrees C, with selectable set points in increments of 1 degree C (percent error is +2 to -4 degrees C). However, due to an anomaly, the RC does not currently have the ability to refrigerate on orbit.

    The RC is capable of running continuously for indefinite run times, or a set run time from 1 - 99 minutes. Currently, the RC is only certified for refrigeration operations of up to 60 minutes, and can be powered up for up to 3.5 hours due to acoustic constraints. It also provides selectable speed over a minimum range of 500 to 5000 revolutions per minute (rpm), selectable in increments of 10 rpm. It accommodates sample sizes from 0.5 to 50-ml between the two rotors. One rotor can hold up to six samples sized from 2 to 50-ml. The other rotor can hold up to 24 samples sized from 0.5 to 2.2 ml.

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    Facility Operations

    A crewmember performs a health check once every six months , but experiment use may fulfill the health check requirement. A health check allows the ground team to verify the health and status of RC components. During experiment operations, sample tubes are placed in the RC by the crewmember. The RC is then closed and the crewmember sets the required parameters and starts the RC. Following the RC session completion, the sample tubes are removed from the RC and then stored following experimental protocols.

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    Results/More Information

    Information Pending

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  • Onboard 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
  • ISS Medical Project
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    image NASA Image: ISS015E10555 - Astronaut Suni Williams, Expedition 14 and 15 Flight Engineer, configures her blood samples in the Human Research Facility - 2 Refrigerated Centrifuge, preparing to separate the cellular and liquid components of blood to facilitate sample analysis on the ground.
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    image NASA Image: ISS015E13648 - View of Expedition 15 astronaut and Flight Engineer, Clayton Anderson, working with test samples in the Human Research Facility - 2 Refrigerated Centrifuge for the Nutritional Status Assessment experiment to help understand human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight.
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    Information provided by the investigation team to the ISS Program Scientist's Office.
    If updates are needed to the summary please contact JSC-ISS-Program-Science-Group. For other general questions regarding space station research and technology, please feel free to call our help line at 281-244-6187 or e-mail at JSC-ISS-Payloads-Helpline.