Our long term goal is translated into a carefully designed roadmap of space missions. Each mission is established with the help of medical, technical, ethical and legal experts and provides key input for the subsequent mission. Our timelines are monitored and updated when required, based on advancing expert insights. We initially focus on enabling conception and embryo development in space via ARTIS: assisted reproductive technology in space. Prior to each mission all technology and procedures are carefully tested during validation missions, using animal cells.
First prototype test in real flight conditions. No biological samples inside satellite yet.
Validation & tech demo enabling mammalian conception & early embryo development.
Optimized prototype enabling conception, embryo development & cryogenic protection.
Applying proven ARTIS technology to human stem cell embryo development.
Fully optimized ARTIS technology enabling human conception, embryo development & cryogenic protection.
Conception, early embryo development & cryogenic protection in partial gravity.
Both our IVF-in-space technology and our initial missions are called ARTIS: assisted reproductive technology in space. During our 6 day ARTIS missions female reproductive cells are fertilized. Once in space the embryos are conceived and start developing at an artificial Earth-like gravity level. After 5-6 days of development the embryos are cryogenically frozen and returned to Earth to be examined. The first validation missions use mouse cells. When healthy mouse embryos are safe to be placed back into the natural womb, further pregnancy and birth will occur on Earth.
In subsequent missions we aim to use human stem cell embryos and eventually human reproductive cells (sperm and oocytes). One of the key scientific goals is to work towards lowering the gravity level to enable partial gravity research. This enables learning what the minimum gravity levels should be for healthy embryo development.
Humanity’s ambition to create human settlements in space requires a series of learning steps of how to safely reproduce in space. The first steps are covered in our ARTIS missions. In the next decades we focus on exploring additional steps. E.g. the conditions for increased stages of embryo development in space and on the Moon and in Lunar orbit.
The long term goal eventually also includes giving birth in space. Initial mission concepts also explored a scenario for safely sending a pregnant woman into space for a very short mission. These study projects provided many valuable insights. It has become clear with current and expected near future technology safe childbirth in space isn’t possible yet. The current view is that this will only be possible when the mother will be in space much earlier and when there is an adequate level of gravity.
Frequenty Asked Questions
Because we cherish the miracle of life. There are many ways to cherish life, exploring life in space is our way.