The Techshot Rapid Freezer (formally known as the Snap Freezer) is being developed as an enabling device for conducting microgravity research aboard the ISS. Beginning first as an application for NASA mission programs, Techshot will have developed a unique device capable of safely rapidly freezing samples in space. Therefore, the initial targeted application of the proposed innovation is an offering of both the equipment and services associated with flight hardware and integration activities, which are highly desired by NASA-funded scientists. In 2015, Techshot signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA, and was awarded an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract from the agency to enable the Government to lease (as needed) a wide variety of our ?professional grade? flight hardware. This new business model is expected to be very attractive to NASA because it reduces the agency?s upfront risk for flight hardware development, and more importantly, it reduces NASA?s cost of ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the flight hardware - for the life of the equipment.
The Rapid Freezer is expected to be of particular interest to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, academic researchers and terrestrial national laboratories, and Techshot is committed to investing in its commercialization. Beginning with the Phase I award, the company built a technology demonstrator with internal funds, and it will continue to invest its own funds in the further maturation of the Rapid Freezer system. While typical laboratories snap freeze tissues by plunging specimens into liquid nitrogen or an isopentane bath chilled by liquid nitrogen, this may not be compatible with all experimental protocols or facility safety standards, which will provide commercial opportunities. Much like the safety concerns on the ISS, significant burn hazards exist from liquid nitrogen spills and isopentane is an extremely flammable liquid. When these conditions exist in terrestrial labs, researchers use cold blocks to freeze samples. But even actively-cooled plates in cryostats do not typically reach temperatures sufficient for effective rapid freezing. This may not freeze sensitive or thick tissues at a fast enough rate to preserve the most sensitive DNA, RNA, proteins and crystal structures.