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Biotechnology is an emerging scientific discipline encompassing many fields of research, such as microbiology, genomics, proteomics, and biochemistry. Research in this field is used to help us fight diseases such as AIDS and cancer, in the design of pharmaceutical products, in the study of pollution and environmental change, in the field of advanced waste processing and the management of natural resources.

Typically, biotechnology works with biological chemicals such as DNA, proteins and antibodies, as well as microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, simple cells. Ultimately it aims to create industrial applications for microorganisms that can improve our quality of life.

Space provides a unique platform for the following kinds of experiment:


In space the effective absence of gravity makes it possible to grow crystals of some proteins other biological compounds that are of better quality than on Earth. These crystals allow us to understand the structure, purpose and behavior of the protein or biochemical. There is equipment aboard the ISS that we could use for a bio-crystallization experiment.


The study of genetics and natural selection (evolution) in an extreme environment such as space advances our understanding of the role genetics plays in the adaptation of humans to space flight. The constant radiation present in space allows us to study the interaction of genetics and radiation, and the impact of accelerated rates of mutation on natural selection.


In space we are able to separate complex macromolecules from one another with extraordinary precision. For example, if we have a variety of biological compounds in solution we can separate out their components and test them individually for pharmacological properties.


There are several experiments that use space to try to culture microorganisms that can play a role in industrial processes such as corrosion management, especially for the development of technology for future manned and unmanned space flight.

Landing Countdown to 05:51 05 May

Landing Complete!

The Team
Mark Shuttleworth
Dale Cupido
Karen Sharwood
Lara Keytel
Danie Barry
Freddy Khan
Vaughan Oosthuizen
Ravi Naidoo
Vuyo Dwane
Richard Mills
Nicolette Cronje
Wayne Derman
Peter Ribton
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