At a Glance
- In FY18, 74 payloads delivered to the ISS National Lab carried multiple projects and investigations across diverse sectors.
- More than 70% of launched payloads represented investigations from the private sector and included projects from Fortune 500 companies, innovative startups, and leading media organizations.
- Two new commercially operated facilities were installed on the ISS National Lab.
The ISS National Lab strives to maximize utilization and science return, generating value and positive impact for the U.S. taxpayer. Private-sector utilization of the ISS National Lab was robust in FY18, representing 70% of payloads and including expansion of commercially operated facilities, illustrating demand and supply within the developing LEO economy. In-orbit commercial facility managers provide users with operational capabilities, experience, and engineering expertise to address unique research needs and are pioneering best practices for the future LEO marketplace.
Diverse Payloads Demonstrate Interest From a Broad User Base
Five FY18 launch vehicles delivered 74 payloads to the ISS National Lab, many of which contained multiple projects. Below are selected highlights.
- Fortune Global 500 company Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch InBev) is studying the germination of barley to improve sustainable crop production here on Earth. Read more at
- National Geographic installed a camera on the ISS to film educational content for their 10-episode television series “One Strange Rock,” which was the network’s fourth most watched series globally with 81 million viewers. View the series at http://issnl.us/ar1803.
- Spire Global deployed the NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 satellites, part of a remote-sensing satellite constellation capable of providing global ship tracking and weather monitoring for the approximately 90% of global trade that is shipped by sea. Read more at http://issnl.us/ar1804.
- Angiex, a startup company awarded in collaboration with Boeing through the MassChallenge program (see Research Competitions), is evaluating a novel cancer therapy that targets tumor vascularization. Read more at http://issnl.us/ar1805.
- Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara seek to improve ocean-based oil and gas exploration, leading to commercial and environmental benefits. Read more at http://issnl.us/ar1806.
- Researchers at the University of Florida are studying algae in space toward possible bioproduction of new pharmaceuticals and health-related products. Read more at http://issnl.us/ar1807.
- The University of Wisconsin–Madison sponsored student crystal growth experiments on the ISS as part of an educational competition to promote science literacy. Read more at http://issnl.us/ar1808 and http://issnl.us/ar1809.
For a full listing of the ISS National Lab portfolio, including flight status of projects delivered this year, see http://issnl.us/ar1810.
Expanded Facility Options Supply the Growing R&D User Base
In-orbit commercial facility managers provide users with lab equipment, operational experience, and engineering support to address user research needs. The ISS National Lab now has 14 commercially operated laboratory facilities managed by eight companies, including two newly installed facilities in FY18 and one new facility manager:
- The Multi-use Variable-gravity Platform (MVP) operated by Techshot, Inc. is a centrifuge that can control temperature within experiment modules to support in-orbit control experiments by providing artificial gravity. The MVP is designed to collect and share data in near real-time from experiments in many fields, including those studying cells, protein crystals, and small model organisms such as fruit flies. For more information, see http://issnl.us/ar1811 and http://issnl.us/ar1812.
- The Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF), developed by new facility manager Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, LLC under a Cooperative Agreement with NASA, is a materials-science and component-testing platform on the outside of the ISS, providing data collection capabilities for passive and active material samples as well as other experiments requiring exposure to the extreme environment of space. For more information, see http://issnl.us/ar1813 and http://issnl.us/ar1814.
Other FY18 ISS National Lab commercial facility updates include:
- The Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES) from Teledyne Brown Engineering installed its first instrument, the DLR (German Space Agency) Earth Sensing Spectrometer (DESIS). The MUSES platform coupled with DESIS will assist in the advancement of Earth imaging, mapping, disaster recovery, and agricultural assessments.
- The NanoRacks External Platform (NREP) initiated the commercial platform’s third customer mission.
- NanoRacks announced that Thales Alenia Space was selected as the latest partner in its commercial airlock program (joining Boeing and ATA Engineering). The first privately funded commercial airlock, “Bishop,” is scheduled to become operational in 2020 and will increase capabilities in both R&D and ISS operations.
Additionally, dozens of innovative commercial Implementation Partners support the growing demand for space-based research by providing support services on the ground (see ISS National Lab Implementation Partners list below), playing a critical role in the success of the ISS National Lab R&D community.
“I believe that NASA and its Commercial Space Utilization Program, and the ISS National Lab, are succeeding at increasing demand for low Earth orbit commercial services. And Techshot is providing many of the picks and shovels that researchers are using in this 21st century gold rush in space.”
John C. Vellinger (to the National Space Council at the White House, May 18, 2018), Techshot
Collectively, these projects, programs, and service providers contribute to growth of the LEO economy by translating use of the ISS National Lab into downstream value to benefit life on Earth. In addition to the anecdotes and advancements discussed above, quantitative assessments of value (based on self-reported data from our investigators and review by external subject matter experts) indicate potential future incremental revenue from the ISS National Lab portfolio will exceed $900 million from estimated addressable markets totaling more than $100 billion.
- 14 commercially operated facilities are onboard the ISS National Lab, managed by 8 companies.
- 45 Implementation Partners provide commercial services to ISS National Lab users.
ISS National Lab Implementation Partners
- AECOM, Kennedy Space Center, FL
- Airbus DS Space Systems, Inc., Webster, TX
- Alpha Space, Houston, TX
- Astrotech Space Operations, Titusville, FL
- Bigelow Space Operations, Inc., North Las Vegas, NV
- Bionetics Corporation, Yorktown, VA
- BioServe Space Technologies, Boulder, CO
- Boeing Space Operations Company, Kennedy Space Center, FL
- Business Integra Technology Solutions (BI Tech), Houston, TX
- CSS-Dynamac, Fairfax, VA
- Emerald City Initiatives, Inc., Huntsville, AL
- FedEx Space Services, Memphis, TN
- HNu Photonics, LLC, Wailuku, HI
- Intuitive Machines, Houston, TX
- Iron Ring Technologies, LLC, Houston, TX
- Jacobs XPrSS, Houston, TX
- KBRwyle, Houston, TX
- LaMont Aerospace, Houston, TX
- Leidos Innovations Corporation, Reston, VA
- M&B Engineering, League City, TX
- Made In Space, Moffett Field, CA
- MDA Corporation, Houston, TX
- MEI Technologies, Houston, TX
- Micro Aerospace Solutions, Melbourne, FL
- NanoRacks, LLC, Houston, TX
- Oceaneering Space Systems, Houston, TX
- Paragon Space Development Corporation, Tuscon, AZ
- ProXopS, LLC, Houston, TX
- Raven Aerospace Technology, Inc., Houston, TX
- SEOPS, LLC, Houston, TX
- Sierra Nevada Corporation, Sparks, NV
- SpacePharma, Palo Alto, CA
- Space Systems Research Corporation, Alexandria, VA
- Space Tango, Inc., Lexington, KY
- Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems, Inc. (STaARS), Houston, TX
- Techshot, Greenville, IN
- Tec-Masters, Inc., Huntsville, AL
- Teledyne Brown Engineering, Huntsville, AL
- Thales Alenia Space (TAS) | ALTEC, Melbourne, FL
- The Aerospace Corporation, Los Angeles, CA
- ThinkSpace, Mountain View, CA
- UTC Aerospace Systems, Windsor Locks, CT
- Vencore, Chantilly, VA
- ZIN Technologies, Cleveland, OH
- UAB Engineering, Birmingham, AL
In-orbit Commercial Facility Mangers
“Alpha Space’s core business is commercial testing services on the exterior of the ISS, and our commercial implementation partnership with the ISS National Lab is crucial to our success. This partnership provides tangible benefits, especially help in finding customers and in ensuring that we have the ISS resources that we need to provide the services that we sell. The ISS National Lab is the ultimate resource for conducting scientific research and technology development in space.”
Mark Gittleman, Alpha Space