The express road to your discovery

What is Bioreactor Express?

Bioreactor Express is a service which aims to establish an “express” way to perform scientific and/or technological experiments on board the International Space Station (ISS). It exploits the KUBIK incubator facility of the European Space Agency (ESA) which is permanently installed on the Columbus module of the ISS. With this approach several categories of experiments can be performed using available miniaturized “bioreactors” dedicated to biological, biotechnological and biochemistry experiments. A wider typology of experiments (plant physiology, food production, material science, fluid science, educational, etc.) can also be supported inside KUBIK.

In July 2019, ESA and Kayser Italia signed the partnership agreement for the commercial exploitation of the ESA KUBIK facility.

KUBIK based

KUBIK is a small controlled-temperature incubator (volume of the thermal chamber around nine litres) used to perform biological experiments in space. Since 2019, KUBIK has been improved by adding data and command communication capabilities, making it a more versatile facility to the final user.

KUBIK allows experiments to operate in the range of 6°C to 38°C, and can accommodate up to 32 standard experiment containers (less in case of extended size containers). A centrifuge with settable gravity level between 0.2g to 2g is available inside the facility.



Several types of bioreactors (also called Experiment Units or EU) and Experiment Containers have been developed by Kayser Italia in support to investigations of biological systems inside the KUBIK incubator. EUs reduce a laboratory into a hand-sized electromechanical device that allows the autonomous execution of a scientific protocol, being designed to contain the cell culture and all the chemicals (culture medium, wash buffers, fixatives, etc.) required by the experiment. These bioreactors have supported investigations in space on a variety of biological models: human and animal cells and tissues (immune cells, muscle and bone cells, mesenchymal cells, hematopoietic stem cells, breast cancer cells, endothelial cells, retinal epithelial cells), yeast, bacteria, algae, small animals (tardigrades, scorpions, Xenopus laevis, Caenorhabditis elegans and rotifers) and plants (carrot seeds and Arabidopsis thaliana).

Integrated services

Incubation of scientific ideas and grant opportunities

We encourage the incubation and development of your scientific ideas, and support you in the discovery of grant opportunities. Moreover, we will help in fostering collaborations with scientific partners among research centers and university

Feasibility assessment

We evaluate the feasibility of your experiment by analysing your science goals, the experiment scientific requirements and tailor them in order to achieve a successful space experiment

Selection of experiment hardware

We define the bioreactor and the experiment container that will support your experiment during the space flight and in ground control experiments

Training and experiment fine tuning

We train you in order to ensure the proper integration of your sample into the Experiment Hardware, and synergistically work with you during the experiment fine tuning phases of your project

Experiment Simulation Test

We plan and perform with you the Experiment Simulation Test, a rehearsal of the mission at the launch site simulating the experiment integration, in-orbit incubation and stowage phases. A dedicated laboratory is available at our premises

Mission logistic support

We take care of the transportation of the experiment at controlled temperature to the launch site and back from the landing site, to your laboratory

Integration at launch site

We work back to back with you during the integration of your experiment at the launch site, from the arrival in the laboratories to the turnover of the integrated hardware to the launch authority

Transfer to ISS and return

A fleet of dedicated temperature-controlled transportation containers are available for every customer’s need

On orbit operations

Our experiment hardware is very easy to operate by the crew. Astronaut operations on Kubik are driven by our standard procedure and supported by our operators on ground

Ground control

We will follow and support on orbit operations for your experiment through our Payload Operations Control Center

Data and samples delivery to science team

We deliver mission profile data and the experiment in your laboratory, and we support you during sample retrieval

Scientific dissemination

We also support you during scientific dissemination at conferences and publication of your results, if needed

Next launch opportunities

SpX-20 (3 Mar – 2 Apr 2020)

SpX-21 (Aug 2020)

SpX-22 (Jan 2021)

SpX-23 (May-July 2021)

SpX-24 (Nov 2021 - Jan 2022)

Note: opportunities dates may change

Upcoming events

BioreactorExpress as commercial resource for educational experiments on board the ISS. More at at the "3rd symposium on Space Educational Activities" that will be held at the University of Leicester (UK) on 16-18 September 2019. Programme details can be found event web site (#54).

The BioreactorExpress team will present "Life in space: scientific & technological developments and future opportunities" at the "UK Space Conference" that will be held in London (UK) on 24-26 September 2019.

The BioreactorExpress team will be present with a Poster at the CRUK–AACR Joint Conference on Engineering and Physical Sciences in Oncology 2019, that will be held in London, UK, on 15-17 October 2019. The Poster title is "Research in Space to understand cancer biology and treatments on Earth". More info on the event site.


The Harwell Space Cluster Showcase took place on Thursday 27 June 2019 at Harwell Campus.

The event had an exhibition format enabling all visitors to directly engage with companies and their products. There were 30 of the 92 Harwell Space Cluster organisations demonstrating new technologies and applications, which will drive future demand for space-derived products and services. More than 200 people attended the exhibition.

Kayser Space presented Bioreactor Express, the new Commercial Partnership Agreement that allows Private Companies and Research Groups to carry out microgravity experiments inside the


Kayser Italia presented Bioreactor Express at the EUROoC 2019 , the 1st annual conference of the European Organ-on-Chip Society. A copy of the poster shown at the event can be downloaded here.

29 -31 October 2018 , Bilbao - Kayser Italia presents the new Bioeractorexpress at  international conference organized by ESA  "Space4Inspiration".

The Bioreactor Express initiative has been officially launched at the ISS R&D 2018 conference.