At a Glance
- ISS National Lab users are increasingly taking on costs traditionally absorbed by NASA or CASIS.
- ~$40M in non-CASIS, non-NASA funding supports FY17 new projects—representing more than 70% of total project costs.
- 42% of new projects in FY17 required no CASIS funding.
- The ISS National Lab supports programs that ensure maximum value to life on Earth while also demonstrating a business case for LEO.
- Recent in-orbit activities and various new initiatives in FY17 promise game-changing benefits to life on Earth while also redefining the nature of space-based R&D.
The ISS National Lab is a key enabler in bringing private sector engagement and investment to LEO platforms. As the ISS National Lab manager, CASIS has launched hundreds of payloads to the ISS since 2011 and has served as a bridge between the government and private sector communities. Taking the role of an honest broker, CASIS selects projects that not only utilize the ISS for non-exploration R&D but also enable economic development of LEO commercial space.
Over the last five years, CASIS has transitioned from a traditional grant-based model to a value-based model, engaging government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector to solve cross-cutting problems on the ISS and leverage private- and public-sector funding. CASIS is a disruptive force to the legacy space establishment, as it focuses on these nontraditional space users and reimagines LEO national interests in new and creative ways, establishing the ISS National Lab as a demand generator for a sustainable commercial LEO market.
Through a proactive commercial innovation strategy, CASIS continues to engage the private sector, from Fortune 500 companies to promising startups, across four research verticals: life sciences, physical sciences, remote sensing, and technology development. More than 65% of new ISS National Lab projects selected during FY17 involve private-sector companies, and the ISS National Lab portfolio now contains more than 100 commercial projects, with dozens more added each year by the growing community of in-orbit commercial facility managers.
In addition to expanding engagement, the ISS National Lab also explores options for leveraging funding to support projects, which paves the way for financial independence of future spaceflight R&D platforms. Increased investment by customers is a positive indicator for the plausibility of a sustainable LEO market, and ISS National Lab users are now increasingly taking on costs traditionally absorbed by NASA and CASIS via agreements or grants. Almost $40 million in non-CASIS, non-NASA funding will support FY17-selected projects (representing more than 70% of total project costs), and 42% of these new projects required no CASIS funding (a 10% increase from last year).
Establishing financial sustainability within spaceflight public-private partnerships is key as the nation looks toward the transition of the ISS to a sustainable model led by the private sector. Equally important is demonstrating tangible impact from space-based R&D. CASIS thus selects new users based on an assessment framework that quantifies project feasibility (technical and commercialization) and value (economic, social, and innovation).
It is paramount that the ISS National Lab adhere to a strategy of supporting programs that facilitate these quality projects in maximizing value and impact to life on Earth while enabling commercial industry to innovate, test, manufacture, and deploy new services or products, demonstrating a business case for LEO.