Molecular Devices’ SpectraMax M5e Multi-Mode Microplate Reader Chosen to be the First Microplate Reader in Space by NanoRacks, LLC for NASA’s International Space Station

May 17, 2011

Sunnyvale, CA - May 17, 2011 - Today, Molecular Devices, a leading provider of instruments, software, and consumables for drug discovery and life sciences research, announced that NanoRacks, LLC has chosen the SpectraMax® M5e Multi-Mode Microplate Reader for use in NASA's International Space Station; the M5e Reader will be the first microplate reader to be used in space.

Molecular Devices top-of-the-line M5e Reader offers flexible configurations across all commonly-used detection methods to accommodate a wide range of life sciences applications. The M5e Reader includes industry-leading SoftMax® Pro Data Analysis Software that can meet all throughput, content, and multiplexing needs of researchers who conduct microplate-based analysis.

NanoRacks chose the M5e Reader for the following reasons:

  • It has the most advanced features, ease-of-operation, and quality software.
  • The mechanics of the reader allow efficient adaptation to the zero gravity of space.
  • The reader has the most features and capabilities in one unit.
  • The M5e Reader is easily automated.
  • The M5e Reader was specifically requested by researchers.

At NanoRacks, the challenge for the engineers will be to modify the plate reader in order for the unit to operate comfortably in the zero-gravity environment of the space station. "Our task over the next several months will be to assure that the astronauts can fully utilize the plate reader in the weightlessness environment of space," said chief engineer Mike Johnson. "This is a fun challenge: the industry researchers specifically called out for the M5e Reader and now we have to adapt it for the space station."

Once the M5e Reader is operational, space-based researchers will be able to conduct analysis on-orbit. Jeffrey Manber, Managing Director of NanoRacks said, "Having the SpectraMax M5e Reader on-orbit will allow researchers to undertake research with real-time results. It was difficult and time consuming to undertake quality, repetitive research projects before the completion of the International Space Station. A new era has begun, and researchers will be able to do quality work without the cloak of gravity."

In addition, researchers will use the reader to do sophisticated analysis of experiments in areas such as: biochemistry, molecular biology, stem cell and cancer research, immunology, enzymatic type studies, microbial growth, and endotoxin testing. Johnson said, "We believe this will be the first time ever that researchers will be able to see on-orbit reactions happening via the use of fluorescence polarization - this is breaking into new areas of sophisticated research."

"We are extremely pleased that NanoRacks has chosen the M5e Reader because of its robustness of features, ease-of-operation, and software that make it a clear choice for space-based researchers on the space station," said Mikey Kindler, Director of Marketing, BioResearch Products.  "We look forward to working with NanoRacks in the months ahead to ensure that the M5e Reader will soon be operational in space."

Ultimately, the M5e Reader will join NanoRacks expanding line of commercial hardware on the space station, which includes microscopes, a centrifuge, and their research platforms - all designed to lead to a path to stimulate commercial usage of these products from the broader research community. Under the terms of the NASA service contract awarded to NanoRacks, the M5e Reader will be owned by NanoRacks. NASA sponsored researchers will have access to the unit while allowing NanoRacks to market the plate reader to commercial users. The Space Act Agreement with NASA's U.S. National Lab allows NanoRacks to develop, operate, and market research equipment and services within the U.S. National Lab on the space station.

For more information about the SpectraMax® M5e Multi-Mode Microplate Reader or other products from Molecular Devices, please visit our website (www.moleculardevices.com) or send an email to info@moldev.com.

NanoRacks will provide regular updates on the Plate Reader program, from modification for space to launch to initial operations via @nanoracks and at www.nanoracks.com