Space Shuttle carries vaccine processing platform to International Space Station

1 September 2009

The Space Shuttle Discovery STS-128 that launched last Saturday (29 August) carried a scientific payload for the International Space Station from Austin-based Astrogenetix, the first commercial space company to use microgravity to discover the foundation of new medicines.

The payload, one of many for conducting scientific experiments, will enable research to be conducted on Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella microbes in microgravity in search of a potential target for a therapeutic agent or vaccine candidate. These bacteria cause hundreds of thousands of medically diagnosed infections every year around the world.

The International Space Station
Image depicting space shuttle Discovery’s final docking approach
with the International Space Station.

Astrogenetix has worked closely with NASA to fully utilize the International Space Station. The company has flown on five shuttle missions performing drug development in microgravity since its formation in early 2008, has been designated a National Lab Pathfinder and is slated to fly on all remaining shuttle missions.

“Through our unique Vaccine Processing Platform, we hope to discover new medicines in space that will benefit lives on Earth,” said John Porter, chief executive officer of Astrogenetix, and senior vice president and chief financial officer of parent company Astrotech Corporation.

When operated in microgravity, the Astrogenetix Vaccine Processing Platform dramatically reduces time-to-vaccine discovery because microgravity elicits unique interactions in biological systems that do not occur in terrestrial laboratories. Returning samples from this flight will be examined and added to Astrogenetix’s growing database of biomarker research. Post-flight analysis will immediately ensue at terrestrial labs in search of specific drug candidates gleaned from the results.

“We’re really on the forefront of something big here,” said Thomas B. Pickens III, Astrotech’s chief executive officer and chairman of the board. “We have an acclaimed space science team, combined with the world’s most advanced technology, to lead the field of medical discovery into the next frontier.”

Astrogenetix, Inc. was formed by Astrotech Corp. to commercialize biotechnology products processed in the unique environment of microgravity. Over the last 25 years, Astrotech Corp. has supported the launch of 23 shuttle missions and more than 260 spacecraft, built space hardware and processing facilities, and prepared and processed scientific research for microgravity.

For more information on the scientific research conducted on the Space Shuttle download the STS-128 mission Press Kit at:

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