UAB engineers keeping busy with NASA work

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Engineers at the University of Alabama Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering(CBSE) will continue to stay busy at the request of NASA.

The CBSE landed part of $70 million extension from NASA to work on their GLACIER and MERLIN systems that are used in space.  The GLACIER and MERLIN systems are cooling and freezing equipment that can be used on space shuttles and the International Space Station to store biosamples. Engineers at UAB designed both systems years ago when NASA approached them over a need of better cold-temperature equipment.

The systems are designed with safe transport and storage in space and during a rocket launch. "What we end up using is nothing like what you might call off-the-shelf technology. A commercially available dormitory fridge or deep freezer would never make the cut," said project manager Rob Rouleau.

As part of the extension, UAB will continue to maintain and service the systems and build any new ones under order. Also, they will be working on spacewalk equipment, flight-crew health and conditioning systems, environmental control and life support equipment.

"It really puts UAB in a fabulous position because we can bring other disciplines to the table for the new projects," said CBSE Director of Research Engineering Lee Moradi. "If parts of the NASA contract mean that we also rely on local contractors to get the work done, that's fine. But it's really our ability to bring the schools of Medicine, Engineering, Physics and many other players into the mix."

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