At a Glance
- The ISS National Lab set new records for utilization in FY17, launching 76 payloads carrying more than 100 individual experiments.
- Most payloads launched in FY17 represented commercial activity, including projects from HP Enterprise, P&G, Merck, and Eli Lilly & Co.
- A growing number of in-orbit commercial facility managers provide increased options to users and are the pathfinders for a marketplace in low Earth orbit.
CASIS aims to advance U.S. leadership in commercial space by generating value and positive impact for the American taxpayer and ultimately driving new market creation by building demand, enabling supply, and facilitating investment. During FY17, NASA signed an extension of the cooperative agreement with CASIS, continuing its role as manager of the ISS National Lab through 2024 to coincide with the extension of NASA and international partner funding for the orbiting laboratory through at least 2024. The extension is one more step toward expanding a private sector commercial presence in low Earth orbit (LEO).
Utilization is a benchmark for success in demonstrating demand for a commercial space market, and the ISS National Lab set new records for commercial activity in FY17. In parallel, the continued expansion of commercially operated facilities onboard the ISS National Lab cultivates the supply side of economic development in LEO. In-orbit commercial facility managers provide users with operational experience and engineering expertise to address unique research needs and are the pathfinders for a LEO marketplace.
Record Number of Payloads Delivered to the ISS National Lab in FY17
In FY17, the ISS National Lab exceeded its crew time allocation and set new records for upmass, with 76 payloads launched to the ISS National Lab carrying more than 100 individual experiments.
More than 50% of payloads launched to the ISS National Lab in FY17 involved commercial entities. Launched projects include Fortune 100 company Hewlett Packard Enterprise and repeat flights for Fortune 500 companies Procter & Gamble, Merck, and Eli Lilly & Company.
Additional FY17 payloads included projects from The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a newly refurbished furnace and two related projects with homeland security applications, and multiple payloads in collaboration with the Department of Defense (including rodent research and a NanoRacks-sponsored commercial collaboration).
Growth of In-Orbit Commercial Facility Managers
In a shift from traditional government-operated spaceflight research, these innovative companies are primarily commercially funded and are responsible for planning and managing the in-orbit operations for their facilities.
- Onboard the ISS National Lab, 12 commercially operated facilities are currently managed by seven companies, offering increased options to users, strengthening LEO economic development, and decreasing the dependency on government.
- The ISS National Lab is accelerating the timeline from idea to flight for these commercial facility managers. Two new facilities in 2017, STaARS-1 and TangoLab-2, progressed from idea submission to installation in less than one year.
- More than $26 million from various funding sources has supported the development of new CASIS-sponsored ISS National Lab facilities, including these commercially operated facilities, since 2011
- CASIS additionally works with dozens of service providers that enable new customers to easily translate experimental objectives into flight-ready payloads. View the Implementation Partner Directory for more information.
- In 2017, the TangoLab-1 facility received its first payloads, and Space Tango reports that demand exceeds five times the capacity of the facility. TangoLab-2, launched in 2017, has doubled the CubeLab capacity along with adding advanced capabilities.
- The ISS National Lab supported Made In Space in flying a proof-of-concept 3D printer and then establishing an Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) after successful in-orbit testing. After of a year of continual operations in space, AMF users continue to increase the complexity and size of objects manufactured on orbit while seeking to grow the palette of feedstock materials.
- Installed in FY17, MUSES is ideal for Earth observation missions—currently estimated to be a $43 billion market—and will enable environmental monitoring and technology demonstrations.
- The NanoRacks External Cygnus CubeSat Deployer enabled a historic milestone in FY17 of the first CubeSats to be deployed at 500 km, an orbit higher than the ISS.
- Related: The NanoRacks CubeSat Launch Initiative (in collaboration with NASA) is an ISS National Lab program 100% commercially funded and sustained by customer revenue.