Five years ago, in February 2016, we released our first issue of Upward, official magazine of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. It was a labor of love.
Looking back, it is amusing to think that in the early stages of planning, the initiative was going to be a newsletter. However, as our small team of scientists and science writers began conceptualizing the format and content, we saw a great need for feature-length articles to showcase the incredible results coming out of the ISS National Lab. Our first issue had three such features and four “spotlights,” shorter stories that were not always focused on results alone. In our inaugural issue and each publication since, we also lead off with a “Perspective,” or an opinion-style contribution that later became the one place we allowed guest contributors to lend their voice to the magazine.
We have covered results from Fortune 500 companies, small startups, research universities, and educational organizations—spanning life and physical sciences, remote sensing, technology development, and more diverse science topics. The theme, however, was constant: Space is enabling out-of-this-world research and development (R&D) that benefits life back on Earth.
While the treasure trove of scientific opportunity in space has been used by scientists for decades, the ISS has only somewhat recently (about 10 years now) been managed in part by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). At CASIS, we facilitate access to the ISS National Lab as a public service to the nation, advancing U.S. leadership in commercial space, fostering science and innovation in microgravity, and inspiring the next generation. Because of the ISS National Lab, the research, results, and stories behind the past 10 years of R&D in space are evolving toward a more democratized landscape—and we were well poised to share that narrative through authentic storytelling.
And so we did! Moreover, we made a commitment to journalistic and scientific integrity in developing the stories, covering the scientific and technological achievements of our projects without trying to “sell” the value of the ISS for R&D. I used to joke that our goal was to make this one product purely “communication without the marketing.” Another team member also labeled it well: “This is where we make our researchers rock stars.” I hope both those things have held true and continue to hold true in the years to come.
It has been such a joy to work on Upward, diving deep into all the amazing science happening in space today—and exploring the human faces and stories behind the research. I am proud of the team that built the magazine (including our freelance and intern contributors), thankful to the management that allowed us to grow and nurture it, and grateful to all those who let us interview, photograph, and immortalize them within its pages.
Finally, I am excited to share with you, our readers, a new look to our online presence, no longer organized by volume and issue but instead digital-forward, with a rolling release of articles that are organized by topic areas of interest. Without you, our team would be lost in a sea of stories without anyone to share them with. You are the motivation and inspiration for us to continue to aspire ever Upward. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy exploring our new format and compilation of stories.