The ISS National Lab continues to support the growing community of Implementation Partners (companies and organizations that offer services related to payload development) and generate demand that promotes supply-side growth of the LEO economy. From aerospace companies with decades of experience to new startups just getting established, these organizations continue to expand the services and capabilities offered to researchers for successful implementation of their space-based R&D.
Through an online Implementation Partner Portal, the ISS National Lab connects users with Implementation Partners that can help translate their ground-based research into flight-ready payloads. In FY23, more than 80 percent of CASIS funding was used to cover Implementation Partner costs for researchers. To enhance collaboration with Implementation Partners and identify ways to bolster supply-side economic development in LEO, the ISS National Lab continues to host bi-annual Implementation Partner workshops.
“CASIS and the ISS National Lab have been instrumental in pioneering space-based research and manufacturing, setting a precedent we’re proud to follow at Tec-Masters, Inc. Our MaRVIn facility represents a leap forward in space processing, a testament to the groundbreaking work initiated by CASIS. We are excited to contribute to this legacy, advancing the frontier of space exploration and its beneficial impacts on Earth.”
- Reggie Spivey, Chief Operating Officer, Tec-Masters, Inc.
In FY23, the ISS National Lab gained two new Implementation Partners, Blue Origin and Skycorp, bringing the total number of Implementation Partners to 36 (see a full list in the Implementation Partner directory). The number dropped slightly (from 39 last year) due to several Implementation Partners being absorbed into parent companies.
Currently, there are 24 ISS National Lab commercial facilities supported by 16 Commercial Service Providers (the subset of Implementation Partners that own and operate facilities on the ISS or are developing future facilities). This number includes the addition of Blue Origin as a new Commercial Service Provider this year. In FY23, more than 60 percent of ISS National Lab-sponsored payloads delivered to station were projects flown through Commercial Service Provider Resource Request Forms (RRFs). This RRF pathway allows Commercial Service Providers to more easily provide their customers with access to the commercial facilities they own and operate on station. See the full list of commercial facilities in Appendix A.
FY23 facility updates include an upgraded version of Redwire’s BioFabrication Facility, which is capable of printing biological tissues in space. These upgrades provide improved temperature regulation and advanced imaging. Additionally, BioServe Space Technologies completed validation of a new facility, the BioServe Centrifuge. This device can be used to separate substances of differing densities, an important capability for several fields of research.
Key Implementation Partner milestones in FY23 include the following:
- Axiom Space launched four of its astronauts on Axiom Mission 2.
- Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, and Sierra Space were awarded unfunded Space Act Agreements as part of NASA’s second Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC-2) initiative, designed to advance commercial space efforts by providing access to NASA resources.
- Nanoracks, a Voyager Space company, installed a new, self-built payload, Gambit, to its Bishop Airlock on the ISS. Gambit provides advanced testing capabilities with a suite of sensors, robust data collection capabilities, and innovative robotic development.
- Sierra Space completed a fifth, sub-scale test of its LIFE™ (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) habitat, an inflatable module that serves as a three-story commercial habitation and a science and bio-pharma platform.
- Voyager Space acquired Implementation Partner ZIN Technologies Inc.