The arrival of the Dragon-5 supply spacecraft at the International Space Station required quick action by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. To understand how the immune system works at a molecular level, researchers have sent up human immune cells on Dragon. The cells have been extracted from fresh human blood – and they survive only 120 hours once outside it.
After a two-day flight on Dragon, the cells are on the Station and they need to be placed inside ESA’s Kubik incubator in Europe’s Columbus module as soon as possible.
Once inside the 37°C incubator, the immune cells will be activated to provoke an immune response before being frozen for analysis back on Earth. The international team of scientists conducted multiple rehearsals last year to perfect these important steps.
Follow Samantha and her Futura mission via samanthacristoforetti.esa.int