Airbus Defence and Space

Manned Space Missions All programmes

Experimental facilities for scientific use

Researchers have always sought to eliminate the effects of gravity to study the structures and processes of materials, or to better understand the complexity of biological systems, in particular the human body. Airbus Defence and Space has designed and built microgravity research instruments for hundreds of different experiments on-board the Shuttle, Spacelab, Mir, orbiting capsules and sounding rockets.

ESA, the French space agency CNES and the German space agency DLR chose Airbus Defence and Space to design experimental equipment for various modules for the International Space Station (ISS): Columbus, the Airbus Defence and Space-built space laboratory, is equipped with Biolab, the material science laboratory (MSL), the European modular cultivation system for plant research (EMCS), the Cardiolab the protein crystallisation and diagnostics facility PCDF and a fluid sciences laboratory.

Other examples of Airbus Defence and Space’s expertise in this highly specialised field include the LBNP (lower body negative pressure) for human physiology research, the DECLIC facility (Dispositif d'Etude de la Croissance et des LIquides Critiques) for research into critical transparent media, and the atomic clock ensemble in space (ACES).

The Airbus Defence and Space-built MELFI, the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer, and EMCS, the European modular cultivation system for biological research, are currently in operation on the ISS. The microgravity science glovebox (MSG), used to safely manipulate sensitive or toxic materials and substances, has been in continuous use in orbit since 2002.

Airbus Defence and Space’s Geoflow 2 experiment was shipped to the ISS in February 2011 by the second ATV mission. Geoflow 2 simulates a kind of ‘mini’ Earth installed in an experiment container the size of a shoebox. Following the first Geoflow 1 mission to the ISS in 2008, Geoflow’s flight model was modified by Airbus Defence and Space in 2009 and 2010 in order to enable experiments with a different scientific focus to be carried out. The results will help to understand thermal convection in planets and the outer shells of celestial bodies, and to verify all numerical simulations of fluid dynamics with real experimental data.

International Space StationISSColumbus