Last week, Redwire announced that it successfully 3D bioprinted the first human knee meniscus on orbit using its upgraded 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) on the International Space Station (ISS). This historic milestone opens the door to improved treatments for meniscal injuries, one of the most common injuries for U.S. service members, and complex tissue printing, with significant implications for organ transplantation and personalized medicine.
The print was completed using an upgraded BFF, which was installed to ISS in early 2023, as part of the BFF-Meniscus-2 investigation with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Center for Biotechnology (4D Bio3), a biomedical research center that explores and adapts promising biotechnologies for warfighter benefit. Operations for BFF-Meniscus-2 were successfully completed in July 2023 with NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, and Stephen Bowen, and UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi. After printing, the meniscus was cultured in Redwire’s ADvanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) facility on the ISS for 14 days before returning to Earth onboard SpaceX’s Crew-6 for analysis.
Why 3D bioprint in space? The microgravity environment on the ISS allows cells to form thick, complex tissue that cannot be created on Earth.
Watch the Redwire team unbox the meniscus print at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and learn more about how microgravity can enable unprecedented medical advancements for tissue printing in this video: