IIT Madras Mini Space Lab

In a significant stride towards orbital ‘Microgravity Research,’ the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) is collaborating with Vellon Space, an Indian space start-up, to further research and development in extra-terrestrial manufacturing. This partnership marks a crucial milestone in the field, with IIT Madras providing a Technology Development Fund to Vellon Space for demonstrating its miniature space laboratory, ‘AsteriX Lab,’ in orbit.

ExTeM-IITM: The Pilot Customer

The ‘Extra-Terrestrial Manufacturing’ (ExTeM-IITM) research center at IIT Madras will be the pilot customer for Vellon Space’s in-orbit demonstration mission. ExTeM-IITM is a group of researchers at the institute focused on developing technologies for manufacturing in space, both for use in space and on Earth. This collaboration aims to fill a significant gap in current space-related manufacturing research.

AsteriX Lab: Space Qualification for Biological Experiments

During its demonstration, the AsteriX Lab will undergo space qualification to conduct biological experiments, particularly in long-duration cell culture under Lower Earth Microgravity. This demonstration is expected to take place by 2025 and will be a crucial step towards advancing biomanufacturing in space.

Implications for Biomanufacturing and Drug Development

As per the ExTeM-IIT Madras,  this project sows the seed for biomanufacturing in space which can revolutionize cell culture and drug development processes in space, ultimately leading to enhanced pharmaceuticals and better human health outcomes.

Understanding Microgravity’s Effects on Biological Systems

The project carries the potential for significant advancements in understanding microgravity’s effects on biological systems. Innovations in drug development processes and the creation of commercial opportunities in the space technology sector are also expected through this collaboration.

Strategic Alignment of Expertise and Resources

Vellon Space emphasized the strategic alignment of expertise and resources in this partnership. The joint effort would drive scientific advancements and pave the way for future endeavors in In-Space Manufacturing.

Future of Space-Related Manufacturing Research

The ExTeM research center at IIT Madras is currently operational and fills a significant lacuna in space-related manufacturing research. While technologies are being developed for manufacturing launch vehicles and satellites, the near future will require technologies that enable manufacturing products and assemblies in space for use both in space and on Earth.

The collaboration between IIT Madras and Vellon Space represents a fusion of innovation and vision, poised to unlock the full potential of space technology and propel humanity into a new era of exploration and discovery.




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