Earlier this month, Redwire’s new cutting-edge pharmaceutical manufacturing platform, PIL-BOX, was successfully installed on the International Space Station (ISS) for the inaugural PIL-01 investigation. The investigation, which launched to the ISS on SpaceX’s 29th cargo resupply mission (SpX-29) for NASA, is being conducted in partnership with Eli Lilly and Company and will include experiments focused on developing advanced treatments for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pain.
JAXA Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa installed the PIL-BOX FC into Redwire’s Advanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) ADSEP facility, a fully automated, multi-use processing facility used to conduct a variety of life and physical-science research and small-batch production on the ISS. After installation, Redwire’s Payload Operations Control Center took over to initiate the experiment timeline for the PIL-01 investigation, which will run for approximately 25 days. During the experiment, the team will monitor the health and status of ADSEP and the investigation. Once the experiment concludes, a Crew member will remove the PIL-BOX from ADSEP and prepare it for return on SpX-29. When the crystals return to Earth, they will be given to Lilly for analysis and comparison to ground samples.
Understanding crystal growth and design can inform the entire drug development and design process as pharmaceutical companies look to deliver new, optimized treatments to help patients on Earth. Previous spaceflight investigations indicate that growing crystals in space could yield a more uniform product with fewer imperfections, which can improve the drug discovery and development process. PIL-BOX is designed to offer pharmaceutical companies and researchers novel and flexible services to leverage the microgravity environment to grow small-batch crystals of protein-based pharmaceuticals and other key pharmaceutically relevant molecules.
Watch the video below to see PIL-BOX get prepped for its first launch on SpX-29 and follow Redwire on social media for updates on the investigation: