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PromoCells in Space

"It’s a milestone in our research. It was thrilling and relieving at the same time to do the count down and finally see the rocket launch.”, says Prof. Oliver Ullrich, space biologist from the Otto-von-Guericke-University in Magdeburg and the University of Zurich.

After 4 years of groundwork, the crewless research rocket TEXUS-49 finally took off. It was 6.01 am on the 29th of March 2011, at the Swedish rocket launch site ESRANGE near Kiruna, 150 km north of the Arctic Circle – and PromoCell’s Hematopoietic Stem Cells were on board.
TEXUS (a German acronym for technological experiments in weightlessness) number 49 set off to analyze why human cells display long-term sensitivity to weightlessness – this is one of the most important problems for manned space flights and it is the research project of Prof. Oliver Ullrich. Since the first crewed spaceflights occurred, it is known that during and after long periods in weightlessness, astronauts suffer from serious disorders of the immune system that manifest themselves in heavy infections.

Oliver Ullrich has already gained valuable insight into the signal transduction of cells of the immune system from eight parabolic flight campaigns. In March, this project was taken to the next step, and our PromoCell Technical Customer Service was right in the middle of the action.

During the 20 minute flight, PromoCell’s Hematopoietic Stem Cells were exposed to microgravity for approximately 6 minutes. Prof. Oliver Ullrich knows from experience: “The immune cells react within seconds of time to the suspension of gravity.”

After its flight at a height of up to 268 km, the TEXUS Payload landed with the Stem Cells in an unpopulated area of northern Sweden and was recovered by helicopter.

The setup with PromoCell’s Hematopoietic Stem Cells is now back in the laboratory in Zurich, where the experiments are being analyzed using modern technology.

At this point in time, one thing’s for sure: the story of “PromoCells in Space” will continue – further tests in weightlessness are planned!