At a Glance
- Customer demand and increasing launch reliability enabled FY17 utilization of the ISS National Lab to exceed allocation.
- Success in leveraging unique ISS opportunities and facilities translated to increased R&D and continued power in partnerships.
- Key partnerships with well-recognized brands such as Lucasfilm, Target Corporation, Google, and Budweiser increased ISS National Lab visibility with new audiences.
- The Space Station Explorers consortium represented diverse education programs that maximized reach and effectiveness.
The ISS National Lab leverages existing resources and the power of partnership to maximize R&D outcomes and success. Flexible partnership models allow organizations to leverage the unique attributes of the ISS that are most relevant to their mission. Partnership models include research competitions, investment opportunities, STEM education programs, and commercial services opportunities. CASIS serves as an honest broker to facilitate these novel pathways for a wide variety of organizations to participate in the growing LEO market.
As discussed in the section on Spaceflight Innovation to Solve Big Problems, CASIS continues to foster both new and recurring Sponsored Programs that propel the concept of partnership to an enhanced level of collaboration aimed at finding solutions to major challenges. Additionally, expanding partnerships with diverse players in the growing LEO market continue to build understanding, synergies, and maturity in the ISS National Lab community.
Commercial Spaceflight Partners Enabled Increased Utilization and Opportunity:
Commercial Launch Providers
During FY17, 76 payloads were launched to the ISS National Lab (a 31% increase over FY16), carrying more than 100 individual experiments, and use of crew time exceeded allocation. These achievements are a testament to the growing demand for LEO platforms and the success of CASIS commercial innovation strategy; however, it would not have been possible without commercial launch providers Orbital ATK and SpaceX providing safe and continuous transport to and from the ISS on a schedule that continues to improve in reliability and frequency.
In-orbit Commercial Facility Managers
The growing community of in-orbit commercial facility managers (discussed in the In-Orbit Activities Onboard the ISS National Lab section) continues to promote utilization and match growing customer demand with supply-side enhancements. The ISS National Lab is continuously evolving capabilities with new facilities such as TangoLab-2 and the MUSES platform, complementing facilities from proven partners such as NanoRacks.
NASA Collaborations Maximized Use of Existing Resources:
This year was punctuated by unique partnerships that leveraged opportunities resulting from improved functionality of enabling technologies and ISS facilities, such as the refurbished Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) furnace. NASA refurbished SUBSA in response to customer demand, and its launch this year supported payloads to synthesize semiconductor and scintillator crystals to improve radiation detection, toward homeland security applications.
An FY17 CASIS-sponsored musculoskeletal research workshop in Boston identified the need for microgravity rodent research studies that can accommodate larger numbers of rodents. In response, NASA began exploring operational concepts to significantly increase the number of rodents that can be flown on a single mission.
High-Visibility Partnerships Increased Public Awareness of the ISS National Lab:
The newest CASIS mission patch, produced in partnership with Lucasfilm, engaged millions of people over multiple platforms and received coverage from The Verge, ABC/ABC News, Engadget, StarWars.com, GeekWire, CNET, Yahoo, and SyFy. Moving into FY18, Lucasfilm will showcase the ISS through its “Science and Star Wars” series exploring technology from the Star Wars films.
A collaboration with Budweiser will examine how barley seeds are affected by space and will answer fundamental questions concerning plant biology and crop growth.
An education partnership with Time will build on their Emmy-nominated “A Year in Space” series to create a new virtual reality and video series called “Spacewalk: A VR Experience” that will document the journey of astronauts as they train for and execute an ISS spacewalk.
Through a collaboration with ThinkSpace, the public can now explore astronaut work and living spaces on the ISS using Google Street View. From R&D to inspirational views from the cupola, images are available at https://google.com/streetview.
Partners in Education Reached the Next Generation of Space Explorers:
Robust partner programs continued in FY17, including the STEM education Tomatosphere™ program, which provided more than 150,000 students with microgravity-exposed tomato seeds for classroom experiments. In 2017, the program provided project-based learning and interdisciplinary instruction to more than 20,000 classrooms and 500,000 students.
The Zero Robotics annual high school competition in FY17 drew the highest participation to date—approximately 1,900 students from 23 states and 17 countries. Zero Robotics is a competition that teaches students about programming, engineering, and spaceflight.
Space Station Explorers
CASIS continues to promote the Space Station Explorers (SSE) brand through attendance at education conferences and recruitment of SSE Ambassadors. SSE exhibited at the 2017 Destination Imagination Global Finals Expo, with more than 17,000 in attendance, and at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, the Boy Scouts of America’s largest event with more than 40,000 in attendance.
The SSE Consortium: ISS National Lab Active STEM Programs
CASIS supports and promotes the full range of ISS National Lab educational outreach through the management of SSE, a consortium of organizations that make STEM learning exciting through unique programs and products related to the ISS National Lab. To learn more, please visit Space Station Explorers.