Microbial Colonization of Space Stations

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Introduction

Long-term space station missions to date include Salyut, Almaz, Skylab, Mir, ISS (International Space Station), and Tiangong, with the latter two still ongoing. These expeditions demonstrate that space stations support a diverse microbial community. While most microbes are not harmful, routine microbial monitoring onboard space stations is still essential in preventing material biodeterioration2 and maintaining crew health3. As currently identified, these microorganisms originate from Earth, with main source coming from crewmembers themselves and from materials manufactured on ground.4 Environmental monitoring is important in identifying microbe and providing data for future studies in attempt to minimize microbial threat to crewmembers’ performance and spacecrafts’ health.