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Experiment Payloads for Kibo’s PM

Experiment at Kibo

The crucial payloads for
multipurpose experiments

The PM has 10 payload rack locations. Of these locations, five racks are for JAXA experiments, and five for NASA. Japan has already developed four payload racks, called RYUTAI Rack, SAIBO Rack, KOBAIRO Rack, and MSPR (Multi-purpose Small Payload Rack). RYUTAI Rack and SAIBO Rack were launched on the STS-123 (1J/A) Mission. KOBAIRO Rack and MSPR were launched on the second flight of H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV).

Payload racks and experimental equipment

JAXA Astronaut Kimiya Yui poses next to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility ©JAXA/NASA

In Kibo's Pressurized Module, experiments are mainly conducted using a microgravity environment. In addition to five Japan’s payload racks, it contains the USA’s payload racks, freezers and storage space. Japan’s two Multi-purpose Small Payload Racks are loaded with experimental equipment in turns.

Experimental equipment used on the International Space Station (ISS) is loaded on the payload racks and transported to space. The payload racks are then installed in the Pressurized Module and other modules of Kibo. Payload racks are similar to the lockers and bookshelves we use in our daily lives. They also function as a distribution panel and air conditioner to distribute electricity to the experimental equipment and to cool it. In other words, payload racks are made up of several kinds of experimental equipment and assistive devices that supply equipment with electricity, among other things.

List of developed Experiment Rack/Facility

Main experimental equipment used in life science research

Basic research using living organisms is needed to investigate how living organisms change and can live in the weightlessness of space. In order to conduct research using living organisms, the Cell Payload Rack is equipped with several devices that allow astronauts to conduct control experiments in orbit using two culture chambers: one in microgravity and the other in artificial gravity using a centrifuge.

  • Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF)
  • Cell Biology Experiment Facility-Left (CBEF-L)
  • Mouse Habitat Unit (MHU)


Cell Biology Experiment Facility - Left (CBEF-L) installed into the SAIBO rack in the Kibo. ©JAXA/NASA

Main experimental equipment used in material and physical science research

JAXA Astronaut KANAI Norishige works on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) sample exchange in the Kibo module. ©JAXA/NASA

A variety of material and physical science experiments are conducted on Kibo, taking advantage of its unique microgravity environment. Experimental equipment developed for individual experiments is installed in turns in the experiment space of the Multi-purpose Small Payload Racks, which efficiently provide resources such as power, communications, and gas supply and exhaust for experiments.

  • Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF)
  • Solid Combustion Experiment Module (SCEM)
  • Group Combustion Experiment Module (GCEM)


Experiment Payloads for Kibo’s PM




Multi-purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR)

Multi-purpose Small Payload Rack 1 is installed in Kibo's Pressurized Module, providing resources such as power, communications, and gas supply and exhaust for experiments in experiment spaces consisting of the Work Volume (WV), Small Experiment Area (SEA), and Work Bench (WB). Relatively large experimental equipment can be installed in the WV, and smaller equipment in the SEA. Experiments in each section can be conducted simultaneously, with the WB serving as a work table. This rack was delivered to the ISS by the KOUNOTORI HTV2 in January 2011.

Multi-purpose Small Payload Rack 2 (MSPR2)

Lab Support Equipments and Other Smaller Instruments

Equipment that was in operation in the past

The Clean Bench (CB) in the Cell Payload Rack and the Aquatic Habitat (AQH) in the Multi-purpose Small Payload Racks are not currently in use.

Unless specified otherwise, rights to all images belong to ©JAXA