Protein Crystal Growth Flight Hardware

The following is a list of Protein Crystal Growth flight hardware that has been developed by CBSE Engineering over the years.

dcpcg_flight_iso_1Dynamically Controlled Protein Crystal Growth System (DCPCG)

Customer: NASA Code UG

The DCPCG was developed by UAB to provide automated real time control 2013 School of Engineering Senior Design Projectsof protein crystallization on the International Space Station. A Vapor system (DCPCG-V) and a Temperature system (DCPCG-T) implemented two different methods of controlling supersaturation levels of the protein samples (Vapor System First flight: ISS-7A.1/STS-105).  The DCPCG-V accommodated 38 protein samples with vapor diffusion rates/profiles regulated via a self-contained nitrogen management system.  Humidity sensors measured the amount of moisture removed from each sample.  The DCPCG-T accommodated 50 protein samples utilizing thermal electric devices for temperature control.  Each system incorporated Laser Light Scattering as a diagnostic for changes in state of aggregation.  A camera system captured video images for downlink to the ground.  The DCPCG systems required minimal ISS crew interaction at activation and deactivation, then all operations were controlled/commanded from the ground.  Iterative experiments could be modified based on near real time downlink telemetry.

hdpcg_2High Density Protein Crystal Growth System (HDPCG / CPCG-H /CMPCG)

Customer: NASA SPD

The HDPCG first flight was ISS-6A/STS-100. The system was designed to house 1008 individual vapor diffusion experiments in a single Middeck locker equivalent incubator.  Four individual trays, each housing 252 experiments, could be removed and transferred to an awaiting camera system for observation while on ISS (VCMS).  The individual experiments were grouped in sets of six (Growth Cell Assembly) and could be harvested one at a time.  Experiment volumes were consistent with typical ground-based research experiments.  Finally, the HDPCG system was designed to allow access to the experiment Growth Cell chambers on orbit with future ISS crystal harvesting, mounting, and X-Ray analysis hardware (XCF or other similar systems) in mind.

vcms_newVideo Command and Monitoring System

Customer: NASA SPD

The VCMS was designed to be used on ISS to observe protein crystals as they grow.  The video system was housed inside a Middeck locker equivalent incubator and the controlling electronics were housed inside an EXPRESS Rack Powered ISIS Drawer.  The VCMS was developed in conjunction with the HDPCG system and used a fixed focus lens to take digital images of the crystals grown inside the Growth Cell Assembly.  The system allowed Co-Investigators the opportunity to view their PCG experiment's progress from their own laboratory without having to wait until the end of the mission.  By monitoring the crystal growth progress Co-Investigators could also determine when the experiment should be deactivated to help preserve the life of the crystal.  The VCMS acted as a screening mechanism to insure that only good crystal candidates are transferred to the facility for harvesting and analysis.

Protein Crystallization Facility (PCF)

Customer: NASA Space Products DevelopmentFlights: Shuttle: 11 (9 SPD / 2 UG)


pcf light scatteringPCF with Light Scattering (PCFLS)
Customer: NASA Space Products DevelopmentFlights: Shuttle:1 (SPD)

vda_rim_1_mod_4Vapor Diffusion Apparatus (VDA)*

Customer: NASA Code UG

Flights: Shuttle: 12 (6 UG / 6 SPD)
*Hardware was originally developed by TBE under contract to MSFC Code UG.  Code UG provided system on loan to UAB/CBSE for utilization on the noted flights.

cos_tes_2_5Crystal Observation System (COS)

Customer: NASA Space Products Development
Flights: Shuttle: 2 (1 SPD / 1 UG)

PCG Glovebox (PCGG-1)

glovebox microscope system

Customer: NASA Space Products Development

Flights: Shuttle: 1 (USML-1)

PCG Glovebox (PCGG-2)

Customer: NASA Space Products Development

Flights: Shuttle: 1 (USML-2)

pcg_mixingPCG Mixing (PCG-M)

Customer: NASA Space Products Development

Flights: COMET: 1* (SPD)

*Payload was destroyed along with COMET-1 rocket due to a launch vehicle failure

vapor_diffusion_appVapor Diffusion Apparatus - 2nd Generation (VDA-2)

Customer: NASA Code UG

Flights: Shuttle: 5 (UG)
*System turned over to NASA and may still be available for users through Code UG

Commercial Vapor Diffusion Apparatus (CVDA) cvda Customer: NASA Space Products Development
Flights: Shuttle: 6 (5 SPD /1 SPACEHAB)