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Outline of the Centrifuge Project


The Centrifuge is a laboratory for conducting gravitational biology research in the International Space Station (ISS) program. The Centrifuge consists of the Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG), Centrifuge Rotor (CR), and Centrifuge Accommodation Module (CAM). LSG is to be delivered on orbit in 2004, and CR/CAM, in 2006, by a U.S. Space Shuttle. In this project, JAXA provides the Centrifuge to NASA as part of the offset of NASA's provision of the Shuttle launch services for the launch of the Japanese Experimental Module (Kibo).

Project Objectives

The Centrifuge is a laboratory for studying gravitational biology. It is used to precisely and quantitatively investigate how microgravity affects biological specimens. The goal of this development project is to test and demonstrate the operability to handle biological specimens in a manned space environment, technology for a large rotating payload, and integration of payloads into a module.

Outlines of LSG/CR/CAM

Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG)
The LSG provides an enclosed environment (workvolume) in which biological specimens and chemicals are isolated from the pressurized environment of the module and crew members can manipulate those specimens through gloves. The LSG is the largest (500-liter) biological experiment equipment used on orbit to date and can accommodate two habitats. Two crew members can conduct science procedures at the same time, such as dissecting small animals, and seeding and harvesting plants.
Launch DateSep. 2004 (Utilization Flight 3:UF-3)
LocationUSLab and CAM
MassLess than 680kg
VolumeOne ISPR rack size (Launch configuration)
Operational Period10 years on orbit
Max. mass:116kg
Max number:2
Crew OperabilityTwo crew members can work at the same time.
Work Volume
Temperature:18-27 Centigrade(Precision:
Less than 1 Centigrade)
EquipmentVacuum Cleaner
Video Monitor
Video Camera(2)

Centrifuge Rotor (CR)
The CR is the largest (2.5m diameter) equipment for gravitational experiments. It provides a selectable, simulated gravity environment from 0.01g up to 2.00g (0.01g increments) for biological specimens on ISS. Small animals and plants could also be used in experiments with the CR, and significant advances for those gravitational experiments are expected.
Launch DateApr. 2006 (Utilization Flight 7:UF-7)
MassLess than 1875kg
DimensionRotating radius 1.25m
Operational Period10 years on orbit
Max. mass:87kg
Max number:8
Mission OverviewCR provides Biological specimens with a simulated Gravitational environment by rotating habitats.
Rotor Functionality
Artificial Gravity:0.01-2.00g(0.01g increments)
Spin-up Acceleration:5min.-1hour

Centrifuge Accommodation Module (CAM)
The CAM is a pressurized module specifically used for life science research. It is equipped with the LSG, CR, habitat holding racks, a freezer rack, and stowage racks.
Launch DateApr. 2006 (Utilization Flight 7:UF-7)
Mass10 tons
ScaleOuter Radius:4.4m, Length: 8.98m
Electric Power6.25kw x 2 strings, 120Vdc
Operational Period10 years on orbit
Number of racks14 racks (excluding CR)
System racksSystem components Installed on the module wall
Stowage racks10 racks
Other racksHabitat Holding Rack(2), Freezer rack(1),LSG rack(1), CR(4-rack volume)

Outline of Biological Missions

The Centrifuge's main mission is to quantitatively
investigate how gravity affects hematology, immunology, neuroscience, plant physiology, radiobiology, etc. Some of the experiments on gravitational biology currently planned are;

  • Evaluation of the kinematics of plant orientation in microgravity and response to artificial gravity
  • Effect of microgravity on skeletal growth, maturity, and calcium metabolism
  • Examination of the effect of microgravity on blood and bone marrow colony forming cells
  • Muscle loss in rats in microgravity
  • Role of gravity in lignification and silicification
  • Role of gravity in secondary metabolite production

Highlights of LSG/CR/CAM development

The LSG development explores techniques for isolating biological specimens from the crew, biological compatibility, and crew operability in a pressurized module. Several functions are to be provided, such as providing electrical power and air for biospecimens, to accumulate and transfer data signals and video signals both for crew members on orbit and researchers on Earth to monitor the status of the specimens.

The CR development involves the challenge of "Slip Ring Technology" that bridges the rotating portion and the static portion of the CR. It supplies air, liquid and power to the rotating portion of the CR and receives video signals from the rotating portion to the static portion. It also involves "Active Balancing Technology," to maintain stable rotation even with the jittering habitats with active specimens. It also involves "Precision Vibration Isolation Technology" to prevent the CR rotation from disturbing the overall ISS micro-gravity environment. With all those state-of-the-art technologies, the CR still manages to control the centrifugal acceleration with a 0.01g resolution.

The CAM development integrates the large-scale biological experiment equipment with hardware commonly used in ISS, by utilizing and enhancing the integration technology derived from the Kibo development.

Last UpLast Updated: October 1, 2003

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