Space shuttle Atlantis carried CU bacteria experiments

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The space shuttle Atlantis carried three University of Colorado payloads to the International Space Station on its final flight.

The biomedical payload devices, including one to help scientists understand how and why micro-organisms flourish in the low-gravity conditions of space, were developed at UC-Boulder.

The experiments on biofilms, which are clusters of microorganisms that adhere to each other or to surfaces, are of high interest to scientists because of their potential effect on astronauts’ health. Their growth has occurred in water-purification and environmental controls systems on Russia’s Mir Space Station.

The experiments targeted the growth, physiology and cell-to-cell interactions in microbial biofilms.

Human immune defenses are lower in space, and bacteria are more virulent and antibiotic-resistant. How these bacteria behave in space has implications for astronauts on long-term space travel flight to places like the moon, Mars and beyond.

A second experiment used BioServe hardware — also created at UC-Boulder — to analyze the change in virulence of salmonella and staphylococcus in space.

“Water quality, food safety and disease are age-old problems on Earth,” said Louis Stodiek, director of BioServe Space Technologies in the university’s aerospace engineering sciences department. “Not only do these experiments have applications for keeping crew members safe … they could help researchers find new ways to prevent and control infectious disease.”

A third experiment used the university’s hardware to study cell cultivation in a tropical plant know as Jatropha that produces energy-rich nuts, a popular renewable crop for biofuels.

Both UC undergraduate and graduate students play a role in designing, building and testing space flight payloads.

BioServe is a nonprofit, NASA-funded center founded in 1987 at CU-Boulder to develop new products through space life-science research. Since 1991, BioServe has flown payloads on 35 space shuttle microgravity missions.

Atlantis landed Wednesday. There will be two more space shuttle flights before the shuttle program ends. But the UC Boulder group will continue to put payloads together to be used on other space flights.

Decisive Analytics exec become chair of NATO industrial advisory group

Wayne Fujito, president of the international division of Decisive Analytics Corp., has become chairman of the NATO Industrial Advisory Group.

The group is a high-level advisory body of senior industrialists from NATO member countries and reports directly to NATO’s Conference of National Armament Directors. His responsibilities include providing a forum for the exchange of views on industrial aspects of defense research, development and procurement within NATO. He also will provide advice on how to foster better government-to-industry and industry-to-industry armaments cooperation, and will assist NATO’s main armaments groups in exploring chances for international collaboration.

Fujito is a specialist in U.S.-Japanese security relations and is a former chief of staff of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He is a 28-year veteran with the U.S. Army, specializing in air defense and ballistic missile defense research and development.

Decisive Analytics is an employee-owned systems-engineering company headquartered in Arlington, Va., with offices here, in Huntsville, Ala.; and Jeffersonville, Ind.

Colorado ranks well

Colorado offers the highest salaries for space employees in the nation.

The Space Foundation, headquartered in Colorado Springs, said that workers in Colorado earned an average of $100,000 in 2008.

The state joins Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia and California for high-paying space jobs.

Colorado Springs itself didn’t make the list. Instead, the Denver metro area ranked in the top five for high-paying jobs — along with Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Jose.

Amy Gillentine can be reached at amy.gillentine@csbj.com or at 719-329-5205. Friend her on Facebook.