Dream Chaser To Deliver Life Sciences Incubator To ISS

Sierra Space sees microgravity research as an important future business.
Credit: Sierra Space

Sierra Space has signed a deal to use its Dream Chaser spaceplane in 2024 to deliver to the International Space Station (ISS) a life sciences incubator made by German biotech company Yuri.

The incubator, dubbed the ScienceTaxi, will be used for a variety of microgravity life sciences experiments on the ISS, Sierra Space said Aug. 31.

The ScienceTaxi is an automated science experiment incubator with temperature control and data collection capabilities that can host up to 38 experiments at once. The equipment also comes with a centrifuge to simulate Earth, Moon or Mars gravity. 

“Scientists around the world can secure their research slots on ScienceTaxi with a variety of different experiments possible, such as cell, plants, and crystal experiments,” says Mark Kugel, co-CEO of Yuri. “Yuri GmbH is looking forward to this long-term strategic partnership with Sierra Space and is excited about the future in which the Yuri ScienceTaxi will be operating on multiple commercial platforms in [low Earth orbit] and beyond.”

Yuri sees the ISS as an opportunity to study how different lifeforms react in microgravity; for example, studying how cell cultures grow, human diseases progress or plants adapt in the absence of the Earth’s gravity. 

Sierra Space and Yuri say they are also exploring conducting experiments in other low-Earth-orbit destinations, including Sierra Space’s Large Integrated Flexible Environment habitat, an in-development inflatable module for a space station.

The Dream Chaser is scheduled for its first missions in 2023 when it will be launched on a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle for a resupply mission to the ISS. Sierra Space recently started assembling a second example of the spaceplane, the company wrote on Twitter on Aug. 30.

Garrett Reim

Based in the Seattle area, Garrett covers the space sector and advanced technologies that are shaping the future of aerospace and defense, including space startups, advanced air mobility and artificial intelligence.