KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (October 31, 2013) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (the ISS National Lab), the nonprofit organization promoting and managing research and technology development onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, announced last night in Boston, MA that it has selected eight startup companies to conduct research onboard the ISS through the MassChallenge Startup Accelerator. In total, the ISS National Lab will award $450,000 to assist these companies in using the ISS to advance their business applications and products.
MassChallenge orchestrates the world’s largest entrepreneurial accelerator, awarding one million dollars each year to startup companies for costs associated with their business or research. Additionally, MassChallenge provides mentorship, office space, and other resources supporting 128 startups aimed at bringing innovative ideas to reality—all without any restrictions or equity requirements. For 2013, the ISS National Lab partnered with MassChallenge to bring funding to technical, out-of-the-box concepts leveraging research on the National Laboratory. the ISS National Lab funding goes on top of any cash award received by a winning proposal.
The projects the ISS National Lab selected through the MassChallenge Startup Accelerator are divided into two tiers: Three top prize winning proposals and five runner-up prize concepts.
1st Prize Winners:
Neural Analytics seeks to use the ISS as a controlled environment for improvement of a portable ultrasound device that measures intracranial pressure related to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Spaceflight effects on intracranial pressure in astronauts are well known; thus, the experiment will compare measurements from astronauts with data from TBI patients—with the goal of refining data measurements and demonstrating the utility of this non-invasive device.
Raja Systems will use the ISS as a testbed in efforts to improve efficiency of power systems in locations around the world that do not have access to reliable grid electricity. The experiment will analyze ISS Electrical Power System data to improve software algorithms for microgrid operation and design.
Silverside Detectors will use the unique radiation environment of the ISS to improve detectors for identifying small, shielded amounts of nuclear material. The detectors can be deployed in flexible arrays to cover roads, runways, and rails, and can scan passing vehicles at traffic speeds. The results of this experiment will improve algorithms used to distinguish true measurements from background readings—making the Silverside detector a more effective tool to identify and track nuclear material.
2nd Prize Winners:
Benevolent Technologies for Health will use the microgravity environment of the ISS to improve an adjustable and reconfigurable component for prosthetic sockets that are necessary to attach artificial limbs. The socket design exploits the special physical properties of granular materials, and the ISS offers significant advantages in measurement accuracy and sample preparation of these materials due to reduced fluid movement in the microgravity environment—enabling creation of lighter and stronger socket components.
EnerLeap will use the harsh space environment to test its improved lithium ion battery technology by exposing it to high-energy radiation, atomic oxygen, vacuum, micrometeorites, and extreme temperatures outside the ISS. The experiment will provide critical technology validation that will improve traction in the commercial market for EnerLeap’s lightweight, fast-charging, long-lasting, and safe battery.
Quad Technologies will use microgravity testing to improve a technology for isolation of specific cell types from a mixed population (such as cancer cells in the blood). Microgravity allows evaluation of very tiny details involved in the synthesis of the microbeads used in the technique, enabling optimization of the beads for cell sorting (separating the cells in a manner that preserves cell function).
Ras Labs will use the ISS to examine how its synthetic muscle stands up to the extremely hostile radiation environment outside the station. Improvement of durability and function of radiation-hardened and radiation-resistant synthetic muscle will advance robotics, realistic prosthetics, and human-like robotics.
Vecoy Nanomedicines will use the ISS to improve design of their nano-scale virus traps, a new generation nanotechnology-driven treatments for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis-C, and other viral infections. The experiment will evaluate virus–trap and virus–host interactions in microgravity, shedding light on detailed aspects of how the nano-scale traps mimic human cells and thus how they lure and destroy virus particles within the bloodstream of patients.
“As an organization, MassChallenge prides itself on supporting cutting-edge, high-impact entrepreneurs innovating on the frontier to shape our future business world,” says MassChallenge Founder and CEO John Harthorne. “MassChallenge is excited to partner with the ISS National Lab to expand the resources available to these high-impact entrepreneurs. Through the ISS National Lab, startups have the capability to access an incredibly unique platform, the ISS, to solve challenges and build successful startups. We are proud to partner with the ISS National Lab in this new commercial-space era.”
“The the ISS National Lab partnership with MassChallenge represents an incredible opportunity to work alongside the world’s largest startup accelerator as we continue to pursue out-of-the-box research ideas capable of changing how we live our daily lives here on Earth,” said the ISS National Lab Chief Operating Office Duane Ratliff. “With the announcement of eight funded flight opportunities through this partnership, the ISS National Lab continues in its mission to enable the next generation of space-based researchers and diversify the research portfolio of the National Lab.”
Final award of grant money is contingent upon the acceptance of legal terms and conditions between recipients and the ISS National Lab.
For additional information about unsolicited proposals, including instructions on submitting research ideas, please visit: www.issnationallab.org/Opportunities/UnsolicitedProposals.aspx
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About the ISS National Lab: The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (the ISS National Lab) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. the ISS National Lab is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit www.issnationallab.org.
About the ISS National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low earth orbit and varied environments of space. The ISS National Laboratory Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center currently facilitates research initiatives on board the station’s National Lab, but management of America’s only in-orbit laboratory is transitioning to the ISS National Lab.
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