Biomedical Engineering Research

Biomedical Engineering Research Laboratory (BERL)

The Biomedical Engineering Research Laboratory (BERL) at KSC is fully equipped to conduct research and field testing on a wide variety of manned and unmanned systems and equipment.  It is the only laboratory at KSC that provides “human subject testing”, including physiological response testing and check out of life support equipment.   The team also provides support for human rescue operations on the ground, including: the design, fabrication, test and operation of custom emergency medical equipment and communication devices; and training of search and rescue personnel.  This support includes communications for astronaut and ground support personnel rescue at KSC, and customized medevac equipment to facilitate in flight treatment.  Search and rescue platforms include NASA and Department of Defense (DOD) helicopters, ambulances, and armored personnel carriers.

The BRL has an established history of successful partnerships with government and private entities in research and technology development; primarily focused on novel life support devices.


  • Design, fabricate, test, maintain and provide crew rescue equipment:
    • Communications devices
    • Life Support Equipment
  • Provide training for medical staff in use of crew rescue equipment and communications protocols with local medical facilities
  • Support rescue readiness on launch day – Interface with Airforce/KSC Medical, Fire & Rescue
  • Develop Life Support Technology, i.e., personal protective equipment and cryogenically based long-duration breathing apparatus and protective suits
  • Conduct human physiological testing, data collection and analysis in the lab, environmental chambers and field environments
  • Test and validate medical devices
  • Maintain, calibrate and repair biomedical instrumentation


  • Under a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the BERL worked with a contractor (BCS Life Support, LLC) to develop safer and more efficient cryogenic breathing systems for the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, for use by mine workers in emergency situations.
  • The BERL successfully incorporated noise-canceling technology into Self Contained Atmospheric Protective Ensemble(SCAPE) suit radios, greatly improving intelligibility and safety during hazardous operations.
  • The BERL was inducted into the Spaceflight Technology Hall of Fame in 2008 for work on the ResQPOD (also called the Inspiratory Threshold Device), which helps prevent drops in blood pressure of astronauts returning from prolonged space flights and increases the survivability of patients who receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation.