Remotely Commanded In-space Research Platform

We love working with the crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) – but sometimes researchers want to use materials, chemicals, or biological agents that NASA deems just a bit too risky for the astronauts to maneuver themselves. So that’s why we built BlackBox!

BlackBox is a remotely commanded platform that has research fully integrated on the ground and completely contained from the astronaut crew. All the astronauts have to do is plug the entire locker-sized platform in on-orbit for power and data. BlackBox allows for multiple experiments to occur simultaneously.

Want to bring your research to space?

BlackBox Features

  • ISS Standard ExPRESS Rack Locker Payload
  • Provides data, power, and structural interface to the ISS
  • Cooling air interface to the ExPRESS Rack AAA Plenum
  • Power details:
    • 12 switchable USB 3.0 ports (Max 2A per port)
    • 12 switchable 5VDC 5A power ports
    • 12 switchable 12VDC 3A power ports
  • Up to 20GB per week data downloads (Standard contract is 6GB/week).
  • Real-time ground interface through Nanoracks Mission Control (BRIDGE)
  • Nanoracks “Lights, Camera, Action!” (LCA) available camera system can be added to the platform
Size:Standard Locker
Payload Volume2100 in3
Max Power:500 Watts
Payload Return:Available

BlacksBox Research Feature: The MIT Space Exploration Initiative

The MIT Space Exploration Initiative 30-day Space Station mission involves several nested experiments inside BlackBox. These experiments explore both fundamental and applied research supporting the future of human spaceflight, representing the diversity of the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative portfolio.

Several of these projects directly address research supported by the NASA-guided Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH). Read more about the MIT Space Exploration Initiative’s inaugural BlackBox mission.


Projects Include:

Space Terroir: A fermented miso sample that will be biologically characterized and analyzed before and after ISS mission exposure (with a control kept on the ground).

TESSERAE (Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments): An autonomous, self-assembling robotic swarm of tiles, testing new paradigms for in-orbit construction of satellites and future space habitats. 

Pigments: Explores the role of protective pigments against the interior Space Station radiation environment and also studying the effect of radiation on certain early-stage development plant life (e.g. seeds).

BioX1: An on-board nanopore genetic sequencer, testing an experiment apparatus for DNA analysis that may become the basis for a future Mars Rover experiment, assisting the Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes (SETG) program.