At a Glance
- The 9th annual ISSRDC was held virtually in FY20 and included ISS programmatic updates from NASA leadership, discussions on commercial utilization, and the latest information on space investment trends.
- The ISS National Lab and NASA partnered to support two in-person Destination Station outreach events (San Jose, CA and Tampa, FL) in FY20, meeting with potential research collaborators.
- Continuing on the success of FY19, multiple high-level digital campaigns were developed and executed, creating more social engagements than in any previous year.
- In FY20, CASIS developed new methods to engage with the research community to highlight impactful ISS National Lab-sponsored science and technology development demonstrations.
FY20 ISS National Lab outreach and stakeholder engagement adopted a technologically creative approach to address the communication challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The critical move to a virtual format for the entirety of FY20 events supported our continued collaboration and engagement with stakeholders and collaborators. This year’s virtual ISSRDC demonstrated a successful and well-attended online program, while targeted digital campaigns and other activities maintained and built on the community engagement achieved in FY19. New outreach methods, such as an ISS National Lab newsletter, coupled with increased collaboration efforts with NASA, allowed CASIS to deliver meaningful content focused on ISS National Lab partners, initiatives, and space-related activities.
2020 ISS R&D Conference
The 9th annual ISSRDC brought a new platform to the forefront: virtual. As the world adjusted to the devastating effects of COVID-19, many conferences and events shifted from in-person to virtual platforms. CASIS, NASA, and the American Astronautical Society collectively decided that a virtual conference format spread over multiple event days would provide a unique and safe path to bring together esteemed researchers with ISS program leadership to accurately convey the diversity of research being performed on station.
Over the years, ISSRDC has been a major driver to highlight previous research, upcoming collaborations, and trends that may shape research and investments in a robust future LEO economy. With the decision to go to a virtual ISSRDC “Online Series” in FY20, the program was also condensed into three days, spread out over three separate months.
- On Day 1, NASA leadership (including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine) provided programmatic updates impacting the ISS, and multiple plenary sessions focused on the rising LEO economy, with commercial launch partners and private-sector researchers discussing how they are leveraging the ISS to validate facilities and business models.
- On Day 2, researchers discussed applied R&D leading to the development and enhancement of commercial projects, executive leadership within Nasdaq moderated a space investment session, and additional plenary science sessions focused on NASA-driven initiatives including GeneLab and the Cold Atom Lab.
- On Day 3, the conference culminated with sessions highlighting the impact of 20 years of student research on the ISS, communications hardware of the future, and disease-related research seeking to improve human health on Earth.
While this year presented challenges, the conference generated more than 5,400 registrations from the space and aerospace communities, key stakeholders, researchers, media, entrepreneurs, and investors.
Additionally, virtual workshops and seminars associated with ISSRDC provided an opportunity for subject matter experts to discuss R&D opportunities, challenges, and future capabilities:
- Researchers, hardware providers, and business leaders joined the Additive Manufacturing In Space Workshop, in which panelists and participants reviewed existing research and discussed how rapid developments in additive manufacturing create new opportunities for advanced materials R&D—advancements that could drive manufacturing innovation for applications on Earth and in space.
- The Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine in Space Seminar Series reviewed key research in the areas of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine conducted on the ISS National Lab in 2020 and examined how the future of this research could advance biomedical discovery and in-space production.
- The annual investor pitch event (detailed in the section titled LEO Economy: ISS National Lab Investor Network and Capital Connections) attracted new and returning investors to participate in the ISS National Lab community.
Implementation Partner Successes Garner Visibility on a Global Scale
The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is an annual global event sponsored by the International Astronautical Federation that attracts stakeholders from throughout the international space community: researchers, space agencies, industry leaders, policy makers, and media. Each year, the IAC changes location and theme. In 2019, the event, “Space: The Power of the Past, the Power of the Future,” was held in October in Washington, D.C. Nearly 6,000 people from around the world attended the conference aimed at inspiring global innovations in space.
Participation in the IAC gave the ISS National Lab numerous opportunities to increase the visibility of the organization and enhance awareness of ISS National Lab-supported research among key domestic and international decisionmakers. ISS National Lab staff were available at the organization’s exhibit booth throughout the conference and were joined by representatives from several ISS National Lab Implementation Partners. Participation at the ISS National Lab booth allowed these partners to exhibit their hardware and capabilities to an international audience.
Additionally, seven papers authored by ISS National Lab staff were selected for oral presentation in the IAC technical sessions. The presentations and accompanying papers covered a range of topics including remote sensing, protein crystal growth, and tissue engineering. Several Implementation Partners also presented on topics such as materials testing in microgravity, new biofabrication capabilities on the ISS, and LEO commercialization. Through active engagement at the IAC, the ISS National Lab was able to demonstrate to a global audience how it continues to be an important part of the international space community.
Additional Events and Outreach
In FY20, CASIS representatives participated in multiple in-person and online conferences and events aligned with ISS National Lab strategic lines of business (see definitions in the Future Directions section). A CASIS team member was co-chair for a SelectBIO event in San Diego, CA, that brought together many of the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research partners that have or will be leveraging the ISS National Lab to discuss results. Multiple CASIS representatives participated in annual conferences such as the IAC and ASGSR to network and promote collaborations with other researchers conducting space-based studies. Additionally, attending the World Stem Cell Summit and SmallSat Symposium enabled CASIS team members to highlight the diverse research portfolio of the ISS National Lab and engage with potential new users. NASA and the ISS National Lab also collaborated on two Destination Station outreach events (in Tampa, FL, and San Jose, CA) to raise awareness and engage with potential research partners.
FY20 also brought with it multiple high-visibility collaborations that highlighted the role of a national lab in space and the unique investigations the ISS National Lab sponsors to further research, development, and education. Through these collaborations, the ISS National Lab was able to lead multiple digital campaigns that helped create more engagements than any previous year. Examples included an Earth Day takeover forged through a relationship with Instagram that ultimately included participation by NASA and astronauts Jessica Meir and Anne McClain. Also, as discussed in the sections titled R&D Progress and Successes and Educational Outreach and Engagement, Nickelodeon’s Slime in Space: A Virtual Field Trip was released in FY20, with various demonstrations performed utilizing the company’s iconic green slime to inspire and engage the next generation of researchers and explorers. Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards featured Slime in Space, the full product for which includes a 20-minute feature video on the experiments conducted on station and lesson plans that reached more than 100,000 homes.
While the impacts of COVID-19 hindered the ability for in-person travel opportunities to meet with prospective research and media partners, it opened the door for leveraging technology in ways not previously utilized. For instance, prior to the Northrop Grumman CRS-14 launch, CASIS worked alongside multiple media and partner outlets (including NSF) to host virtual webinar sessions featuring researchers, NASA and ISS National Lab representatives, and NASA astronauts. The NSF session was moderated by CNN’s Ashley Strickland and led to multiple mainstream media stories on NSF’s funded research launching on that mission.
CASIS additionally continued development and distribution of Upward magazine, which highlights results of science sponsored by the ISS National Lab, while also instituting a new newsletter, “Science in Space Today,” that reaches a wide audience monthly. The newsletter highlights facts, figures, and updates associated with current ISS National Lab events.