Maiden Flight is an autonomous biological laboratory environment designed for studying the impact of space flight on the sole reproductive node of a bee colony: the queen bee and her retinue.
It represents the first space module of its kind built specifically to cater to queen bees. The hybrid-ecology of the capsule was created to take into account the distributed and uniquely non-human nature of bee biology, in order to consider how to extend the bee reproductive system for environmental extremes. This aim is reflected in the structure of the capsule interior, which was assembled by humans and augmented by the bees’ natural fabrication.
In May 2019, the Mediated Matter group traveled to Texas to launch two laboratory capsules on Blue Origin’s sub-orbital rocket system, New Shepard. Each custom-designed metabolic support capsule comprised an experimental environment for one queen bee and an attending retinue of 10-20 nurse bees for a parabolic flight to a 100-kilometer micro-gravitational space apogee, and back.