07/12/2021 | Press release | Archived content
MEI Technologies, Inc. (MEIT) expands its space testing services by successfully integrating biological science experiments on Virgin Galactic's first VSS Unity spaceflight. The science hardware provided for flight by MEIT made history as the first crew-tended payload to fly on the Virgin Galactic spaceplane.
MEIT performs mission integration & operations (MI&O) and sustaining engineering services at NASA's Kennedy Space Center for research on the International Space Station (ISS) and commercial spacecraft as part of its REMIS prime contract with NASA's Johnson Space Center. For the Virgin Galactic mission, MEIT worked with principal investigators from the University of Florida to integrate their experiment into Kennedy Fixation Tubes (KFTs). The KFTs were designed to contain and chemically 'fix' plant tissue samples or other small biological samples, allowing plant matter to stop growing at the time of actuation in space.
'Our KFTs-which NASA originally created for the ISS-are unique in the plant biology world, allowing samples in space to be quickly preserved and stored long-term without compromising RNA integrity. It's exciting to have them used now on commercial spacecraft like the VSS Unity, and they're scheduled to fly soon on a Blue Origin sub-orbital launch too,' stated Zane Singleton, MEIT's program manager.
'These experiments illustrate the power and potential of the partnerships between NASA, academia, commercial space service providers and traditional space service providers. Partnerships and opportunities to collaborate like this are an important part of the new space industry and are part of the motivation and thinking behind the upcoming merger between MEIT and its commercial space sister-company Alpha Space,' stated MEIT CEO Mark Gittleman.
Since the company's inception, MEIT has successfully integrated and launched over 420 payload and experiment packages for NASA and the Dept. of Defense, enabling over 1 million hours of science in space, and Alpha Space has integrated, launched, installed, and returned over 1000 individual experiments and samples to the ISS since 2018. The merged companies will draw from the best of its DoD, NASA, and commercial space practices to provide its customers with a full range of spaceflight and technology development services.
Next up: an additional KFT prepared for flight is slated for an upcoming Blue Origin flight as the principal investigators continue their commercial research in space.
Photo caption: Pictured on the right is Vice President of Government Affairs at Virgin Galactic, Sirisha Bandla, activating a KFT onboard the Virgin Galactic VSS Unity. Photo courtesy of Virgin Galactic.
About MEI Technologies, Inc.
MEI Technologies, Inc. (MEIT) is a minority Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) technology company with over twenty-five years of experience serving DOD, NASA and commercial customers with a depth of capability, flexibility, quality and service. Headquartered in Houston, MEIT has operations in six states nationwide. MEIT offers innovative services and solutions in engineering; modeling and simulation; space system design and integration; and IT/cyber engineering services.
About Alpha Space Test & Research Alliance, LLC
Alpha Space leads the commercial space industry through its Space Testing as a Service (STaaS) offerings. Alpha Space owns and operates the MISSE - an orbiting commercial science and testing facility permanently installed on the exterior of the International Space Station. It is also developing two lunar systems for STaaS on the moon beginning in 2023. The company's turn-key, fixed-price space testing services make testing in space more simple, convenient, predictable, and inexpensive than it has ever been.