It is my honor to share with you the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19; October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019). Multiple ISS National Lab activities this year achieved all-time highs: We broke records for crew-time utilization hours, payloads delivered, new projects selected, and new-to-space customers added to the research and development (R&D) portfolio. Educational initiatives, social media engagements, and user sessions for dynamic digital content all doubled in reach. Other key performance indicators, particularly those related to commercial and investment activities, also maintained positive trends: More than 70% of payloads launched this year represented projects from the private sector; three new commercially operated research facilities joined the ISS National Lab, including the first-ever U.S. bioprinter in space; and our investor network grew by 25%.
New partnerships and customers in FY19 include commercial entities like Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, adidas, and Scientific American; nonprofits like the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; and top research universities like Northwestern—and this growing community augments returning customer activities from organizations like the National Cancer Institute and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which are interested in building on previous successful flight experiments. Furthermore, more than half of these newly selected projects required no ISS National Lab grant funding to execute project objectives. In total, more than $190 million in external, non-NASA funds are now committed in support of specific ISS National Lab R&D projects—more than half of which is from commercial entities.
This year, research from Goodyear, Johns Hopkins University, Nalco Champion, Scripps Research Institute, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the University of Washington, and many others were delivered to space, with investigators hoping to uncover new knowledge related to top healthcare burdens for the public and our military servicemembers, pressing environmental and agricultural challenges, and economic hurdles associated with a rapidly changing global technology landscape. Other key FY19 activities include:
- Completion of the first round of experiments from the Tissue Chips in Space collaboration, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, and the first-ever Rodent Research Reference Mission, which maximizes science return from a traditionally constrained resource.
- Peer-reviewed publications by investigators from the Department of Defense, Novartis, and others—and a granted patent related to increased fungal bioproduction of an antioxidant in orbit.
- Multi-year, repeat collaborations with commercial and non-NASA government entities to augment project funding.
- Three web applications newly for sale online, based on results from an ISS National Lab project in geoanalytics.
- Establishment of an Implementation Partner Consortium—and the addition of three new members to our commercial Implementation Partner community.
- The 8th annual ISS Research and Development Conference, including keynote talks, technical and plenary sessions, investment events, and subject matter expert workshops in tissue engineering, materials science, and sustainability.
- Release of a virtual reality (VR) and video series from TIME in collaboration with Felix & Paul Studios, which documents what it is like to live and work in space, including the first-ever filming of a spacewalk in cinematic VR.
- Educational activities with Marvel, Nickelodeon, and others—many involving in-orbit student experiments.
- Release of a SciGirls® in Space video series by Twin Cities PBS, highlighting four female student scientists.
- The first-ever use of CRISPR technology to edit DNA on the ISS—as part of a student project from the Genes in Space program.
We invite you to read the full Annual Report to learn more details about these activities and to understand the context of how ISS National Lab performance indicators and success stories relate to the development of a robust economy in low Earth orbit (LEO).