Today, the third edition of NASA’s “International Space Station Benefits for Humanity” publication was released, summarizing the benefits to life on Earth that have resulted from International Space Station (ISS) activities, including numerous ISS National Lab-sponsored project successes. The publication is a flagship example of how the mission of the ISS National Lab—to foster scientific discovery and technological innovation in space to benefit life on Earth, expand U.S. leadership in commercial space, and inspire the next generation—is being realized.
The ISS not only serves as a testing ground and stepping stone for future human space exploration, it also enables technological and scientific advances that provide substantial benefits for humanity back on Earth. The Benefits for Humanity publication discusses ISS benefits realized in the areas of economic development of space, innovative technology, human health, Earth observations and disaster response, and global education.
The publication includes more than 20 ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations whose results are discussed in detail as examples of tangible benefit to life on Earth that has resulted from ISS research and development. Most of these ISS National Lab investigations fall within the section “Economic Development of Space,” which focuses on how private-sector companies are using space to advance commercial products for consumers back on the ground. The ISS National Lab worked closely with NASA to help capture recent updates from ISS National Lab investigators and their successes.
This edition of Benefits for Humanity also includes excerpts from three articles published in Upward, the official magazine of the ISS National Lab:
- “Space Tango: Research in a Box” focuses on how commercial service provider Space Tango is supporting increasing demand for space-based research and development by offering the capabilities of a full lab condensed into a 10-cm CubeLab Module.
- “Jumpstarting the CubeSat Revolution With Reliable Launch from the ISS” discusses how the demand for small satellites has significantly increased in recent years and how commercial partners such as NanoRacks are helping to establish the ISS as a reliable launchpad for small satellites with a wide variety of missions aimed at benefiting life on Earth.
- “Tropical Cyclone in Sight: Tracking Hurricanes & Typhoons From Space” explains how researchers are using the unique vantage point of the ISS National Lab to improve measurements of the intensity and trajectory of tropical cyclones, toward saving lives and minimizing destruction from these devastating storms.
The ISS National Lab seeks to maximize not only utilization of in-orbit resources but also downstream value to life on Earth. Toward this goal, the ISS National Lab developed an assessment framework in collaboration with a consulting company that quantifies value and impact to the U.S. taxpayer using methodology based on best practices from industry, government research agencies, and other national labs.
Additionally, working with NASA to share the utility of the ISS National Lab project valuation process led to a NASA project to assess its broad ISS R&D portfolio and its economic impact to the public using the assessment process developed by the ISS National Lab. Specifically, the consulting company that the ISS National Lab worked with to develop its value assessment framework was tasked by NASA in fiscal year 2018 with applying this value methodology to an expanded subset of ISS activities, with all ISS international partners engaged in selecting investigations for review. In this exercise, the consulting company used the three dimensions of impact originally designed for use in valuation of the ISS National Lab portfolio: Innovation, Humankind/Social, and Economic. Results from this assessment are presented in the third edition of Benefits for Humanity.
This week, the latest edition of NASA’s Spinoff publication was also released. The Spinoff publication features dozens of commercial technologies that were developed or improved by NASA’s space program and benefit people on Earth. The publication provides nearly 50 examples of how NASA benefits various industries and people around the world.
Constructing the ISS took unprecedented scientific and engineering collaboration among five space agencies representing 15 countries, and more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the ISS. While each of the ISS international partners have their own goals and objectives, all are united in a single overarching mission—to leverage our planet’s only orbiting laboratory to achieve invaluable benefits for humanity on Earth.
The full Benefits for Humanity publication is available here.