Protein crystal growth aboard the U.S. space shuttle flights STS-31 and STS-32

Adv Space Res. 1992;12(1):393-400. doi: 10.1016/0273-1177(92)90310-t.


NASA: The first microgravity protein crystal growth experiments were performed on Spacelab I by Littke and John. These experiments indicated that the space grown crystals, which were obtained using a liquid-liquid diffusion system, were larger than crystals obtained by the same experimental system on earth. Subsequent experiments were performed by other investigators on a series of space shuttle missions from 1985 through 1990. The results from two of these shuttle flights (STS-26 and STS-29) have been described previously. The results from these missions indicated that the microgravity grown crystals for a number of different proteins were larger, displayed more uniform morphologies, and yielded diffraction data to significantly higher resolutions than the best crystals of these proteins grown on earth. This paper presents the results obtained from shuttle flight STS-32 (flown in January, 1990) and preliminary results from the most recent shuttle flight, STS-31 (flown in April, 1990).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology
  • Crystallization
  • Equipment Design
  • Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments / chemistry
  • Isocitrate Lyase / chemistry
  • Phospholipases A / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Serum Albumin / chemistry
  • Space Flight*
  • Spacecraft / instrumentation
  • Weightlessness*
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments
  • Plant Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Serum Albumin
  • canavalin protein, Canavalia ensiformis
  • Phospholipases A
  • Isocitrate Lyase