This piece is part of our ISS360 reflections series highlighting the 2022 International Space Station Research and Development Conference.
The International Space Station (ISS) is arguably humanity’s greatest technological achievement—a platform in low Earth orbit where astronauts have lived and worked continuously for more than 20 years. It’s also home to a state-of-the-art science laboratory, where investigators are conducting research that is not possible on Earth. During a live downlink from the space station during the 2022 ISS Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC), two crew members discussed the value of the ISS as a powerful research platform.
“The ISS is a proving ground for science,” NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren said during the downlink. “Each of these experiments represents a lifetime of work. It’s a privilege to work on them.”
Joined in the downlink by crewmate and fellow NASA astronaut, Jessica Watkins, the duo discussed life in orbit and the research investigations they get to conduct. “Each day is different up here,” Watkins said. “With the recent arrival of a SpaceX Cargo Dragon capsule, our schedule is heavier on the science side and less on the maintenance side.” On that mission, the Dragon capsule carried more than 15 payloads sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, including tissue chip experiments on age-related conditions, studies to improve Tide laundry detergent and other consumer products, investigations testing new materials for spacecraft, and even student-led research.
“We’re filled to the brim with science,” Lindgren said. “It’s happening in every nook and cranny in the ISS.”
The experiments carried out by the crew are a combination of new investigations and continued experiments that build upon previous research said Watkins. All this research is important not only to NASA, its space agency partners around the world, and private companies but also to each one of us on Earth.
“A lot of the science we’re doing here on the station has tremendous benefits for those back on Earth,” Watkins said, explaining that through research on the ISS, the crew members on station are helping to make life better for humanity right now.
ISSRDC is an annual conference hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS), manager of the ISS National Laboratory; NASA; and the American Astronautical Society (AAS). To learn more about ISSRDC 2022, including more info on the sessions and speakers, please visit www.issconference.org. For more information on research sponsored by the ISS National Lab, visit our website: www.ISSNationalLab.org.