News & Awards

University of Zurich Signs Three-Year Lease at Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL)

December 16, 2014

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla. (December 16, 2014) - Space Florida is pleased to announce that the University of Zurich, Switzerland recently signed a three-year lease to process future research destined for the International Space Station (ISS), at the Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL), near Kennedy Space Center. Space Florida has invested significant resources in the SLSL over the past four years to transition it to a world-class, multi-tenant commercial research and development facility.

The new, three-year lease is effective on January 1, 2015. The lease was negotiated through a joint effort between Space Florida, the University of Zurich and CSS Science Concierge Services, who provides pre-flight, post-landing and ground control support laboratory space and services for the University.

In June 2014, the University of Zurich announced the successful launch and return of the first international, commercial experiment processed at SLSL, called "CELLBOX." The CELLBOX Experiment was processed and launched through a partnership between the German Space Agency (DLR), Astrium and NanoRacks. CELLBOX launched aboard the SpaceX CRS-3 Mission to the ISS on April 18, 2014.

CELLBOX investigated microgravity-associated long-term alterations in primary human macrophages - a type of white blood cell – responsible for attacking, and killing bacteria and other foreign intruders in the human body. The immune system is one of the most affected systems of the body during space flight and cells of the immune system are exceptionally sensitive to microgravity. CELLBOX white blood cells were successfully returned from the ISS and are currently being examined at the University of Zurich.

"Space Florida's SLSL facility provided the right lab environment and technical support we needed to prepare this critical payload for flight," said Oliver Ullrich, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Zurich and Principal Investigator of the project. "Our team has determined that the capabilities that exist at the state-of-the-art SLSL are exactly what we need to prepare future experiments, so we are pleased to sign the three-year lease for 2015-2018 utilization."

"The Space Life Sciences Lab is perfectly equipped to handle the processing of unique ISS-bound research payloads for commercial companies and university programs," said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. "We look forward to working with other research groups to make the SLSL their experiment processing home as well."

"CSS Dynamac's Concierge Service has provided support for more than 100 scientific payloads for NASA over the past 17 years, and we are thrilled to be able to now leverage that knowledge for the benefit of the private sector and its customers," said Cindy Martin-Brennan, CSS's Director of Space Operations. "We look forward to assisting the University of Zurich with their upcoming science missions."

Professor Ullrich and his team plan to fly additional research on the SpaceX CRS-6 mission, currently slated for spring 2015.

To learn more about Space Florida's Space Life Sciences Laboratory, visit www.spaceflorida.gov.