Moving into 2018 and beyond, a new economy is emerging in LEO as the unique ISS attributes of long-term microgravity, extreme external conditions, and the LEO vantage point for remote sensing are being exploited to create new R&D opportunities for the U.S. public and sectors of the nation’s economy. The ISS National Lab, under the management of CASIS in collaboration with diverse Implementation Partners and program sponsors, is playing a pivotal role in demonstrating the value and impact that can be made through R&D initiatives that cannot be performed as well, if at all, in land-based laboratories.
CASIS strives to improve logistics and selection criteria for ensuring the optimal utilization of the ISS, as a pathfinder for what can be uniquely accomplished in the LEO environment. These efforts will continue into the coming year, and in doing so, CASIS is attracting a broad range of R&D initiatives from iconic Fortune 500 companies, early-stage entrepreneurs, leading academic institutions, and non-NASA government agencies. These groups are now increasingly utilizing the unique assets of the ISS National Lab because of CASIS promotion of the ISS as a new platform for innovative research. The ultimate goal is a future sustainable LEO marketplace that can be viewed as an integral part of the total U.S. infrastructure.
Moving forward, CASIS will further augment its support for commercial service providers that are building new enabling capabilities to serve the research requirements of ISS National Lab customers and program sponsors. CASIS will enhance communication opportunities and channels with all constituencies and partners in FY18, with a goal to continue refining operating procedures that ensure efficiency, transparency, productivity, and success within this growing community. As an example, CASIS is developing a new web portal to allow commercial service providers to bid on projects sourced by the increasingly successful CASIS business development program.
Payloads projected for delivery to the ISS National Lab in FY18 include projects from a diverse range of research entities, including Novartis, Honeywell, Delta Faucet, Nemak, Budweiser, and Nalco Champion. If the goals of these projects are achieved, they could result in major impacts here on Earth by enabling lower engine emissions, higher-yield crop production, new therapies for bone and muscle diseases, and more efficient technologies to enable water conservation. In addition, new commercially operated facilities are planned for launch and installation, including an external platform, a bioculture system, optical fiber fabrication equipment, and a new multipurpose variable-g platform (i.e., a centrifuge). These new facilities will increase the capabilities of the ISS National Lab and accelerate the introduction of high-value programs supporting three major research themes: advanced materials testing, regenerative medicine research, and sustainable space-based manufacturing.
Looking forward to FY19, payloads projected for delivery include projects from AstraZeneca Medimmune, Sanofi Pasteur, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber, with potential impacts including more effective vaccines, new biomedical therapies, and safer tires that may improve fuel efficiency. The ISS National Lab will also receive the first privately funded commercial airlock, from NanoRacks and Boeing, which will increase the capability of transferring equipment, payloads, and deployable satellites from inside the ISS to the outside, significantly increasing ISS utilization.
Evaluation of potential economic, innovation, and social value and impact from projects has been integrated into all parts of CASIS operations—from targeting new customers to evaluating R&D and communicating impact to U.S. taxpayers. CASIS will continue to evaluate results from ongoing projects in the ISS National Lab portfolio using a team of independent experts using quantifiable assessments based on best practices. These findings will inform future selection and prioritization of projects as well as potential augmentation of existing programmatic areas. CASIS will also invest in program development in support of third-party sponsorship of research solicitations, portfolio diversification, and educational partnerships to increase STEM literacy.
During the coming year, CASIS will continue to promote the unique environment of LEO and the ISS as a platform to conduct groundbreaking R&D. CASIS will also continue to inform and attract an ever-expanding audience of potential users and increase demand for access to LEO through demonstrations of its utility for innovative research programs. In addition, CASIS will attempt to identify ways to mitigate the challenges posed by the current costs of space research, including fostering additional collaborative partnerships similar to the current Target Sustainability Challenge.
CASIS looks forward to 2018 objectives as additional steps toward creating a sustainable marketplace in LEO that will continue to support the research efforts of the U.S. and its economy well into the future.