Will I become eligible if I have a registered business entity in the U.S.?
CASIS needs more information than the registered entity to determine eligibility. Please submit your Concept Summary and we can provide assistance and instructions in submitting the appropriate documentation. The principal investigator (PI) or project lead as well as the business entity must qualify as “US Persons” per the reference in the solicitation.
What do you mean by Programming?
Programming is a set of related activities with a common aim or objective. An example is Zero Robotics programming, they have a program to utilize the spheres on space station and work with middle and high school students on coding competitions. Another program provides an opportunity for students to work with curriculum pieces developed by scientists that have studied different aspects of signs on station. Developing coursework could be another example of a program or course.
What percentage of Step-1 Concept Summaries do you anticipate inviting to submit Step-2 Proposals?
We do not have a defined percentage, but applications must meet the criteria outlined in the solicitation. CASIS typically receives numerous Step-1 responses to its proposal requests, most of which proceed to Step-2.
What does digitizing an existing program mean?
Currently, a lot of great programming content is available that could be reinvigorated into the digital age. There is possibly other content or curriculum that could benefit from a website to promote collaboration or an application that increases accessibility by engaging new ways to reach students.
Universities charge Facilities and Administrative cost rates (F&A) is that allowed in this NLRA?
Yes, F&A overhead is allowed. We do have limitations, the standard limitation for an indirect rate is 10%. However, if your institution or University has a government approved rate and can verify that with documentation, then CASIS could accept that indirect rate.
If a PI has a current CASIS grant, could we apply to this NLRA?
Yes, this is an opportunity if you wanted to expand a project that you are already working on. If you have a research project and would like to incorporate a STEM component or if it were a STEM project you would like to expand, you can apply to this NLRA.
Do you have a diversity or inclusion statement?
If you read the full research announcement and the content on the landing page for this announcement, there is a requirement to target and engage underserved communities in addition to other requirements previously referenced in this webinar.
Can we utilize current Space Station Explorers programming technologies to support K-12 engagement or only new programming?
We have a consortium of Space Station Explorers, Partners and Programs, and CASIS would encourage you to reach out and connect with them to partner on projects. They have the background knowledge and resources available, as well as some partnerships already in place. CASIS also recommends engaging with our Implementation Partners.
Can the education program be established leveraging the existing data from ISS experiments?
Yes, there are some very good datasets available and CASIS would encourage you to utilize the datasets and content that already exist. NASA’s Gene Lab has amazing datasets, and a project could be developed utilizing it.
If I have a flight experiment on the ISS, can I submit a proposal that is leveraged by that experiment?
Yes, that would make sense to utilize the work that is being done on station to create an Education program. CASIS recommends researching the Orion’s Quest Program that leverages datasets and research that is being conducted on station and the team is taking that content and creating curriculum pieces.
Can you elaborate on higher education; would it include Master’s and Ph.D. programs?
Yes, CASIS welcomes the opportunity to work with undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. level students in U.S. academic institutions.
Does the submitting organization have to be a university or school? What are the requirements for organizations? Can an LLC doing STEM work submit a proposal?
Entities other than schools and universities are eligible to submit proposals in response to this NLRA, as long as the PI is a U.S. person and the organization is a U.S. entity.
If we only require crew time, are there guidelines around that parameter?
We anticipate seeing an increase in crew time over the coming years and some of the limitations that have existed in the past may not be quite as stringent. If your proposal has a requirement for crew time, indicate how much time you think would be required as part of your Concept Summary and we will be able to provide feedback as to whether it is feasible to support the level of crew effort.
Do we need to have an Implementation Partner if we submit an experiment for flight that is both K-12 and undergraduate/graduate based?
You would not have to have an Implementation Partner (IP) identified for the Step-1 submission, but an estimate of the cost for an IP is required in Step-1 submissions. It is highly encouraged that you work with an IP if you plan to submit an experiment for flight.
Who pays for the Implementation Partner; does it come from the submitted budget?
If you are proposing a flight project, you can include the cost of the Implementation Partner in the CASIS funding request. However, be mindful of the funding limitations stated in the solicitation. This limitation is inclusive of all costs.
Can an applicant apply to multiple NLRA solicitations for one program to meet STEM objectives and Technology or Research objectives?
You can apply to multiple CASIS NLRAs, but you will want to select the one that is the best fit for your focus area.
Is there a recommended or required project start date?
Our goal is to announce awards in the July timeframe and begin the contracting process in August. Project start dates would be prior to the end of this fiscal year.
Can you talk more about what the ISS National Lab is looking for in terms of evaluation and outcome tracking?
It varies from program to program. If your project is looking at direct contact with students versus an online engagement tool, those would be different. We look for our programs and our partners to align with GSS standards, Common Core standards meeting strict requirements.
I am an undergraduate research student in the U.S., but I am not a U.S. citizen. Is it a requirement?
You are required to be a U.S. person meaning a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident. You are welcome to coordinate with your organization or University to be part of a team, but you cannot be the lead if you are not a U.S. person. CASIS deals directly with the U.S. person, and the organization would be obligated to handle licensing or other export control requirements that might be necessary during the project.
Can a program apply for a new look/angle based on a prior K-12 experiment that answers new questions or must the work be original entirely, with no prior art?
Yes, you can build on something taking a new angle and that is within the scope of the NLRA. Prior programming you have done at the K-12 level or even a flight experiment at the K-12 level; looking to either expand to new audiences in underserved communities, particularly with an emphasis on digital engagement or extending that into higher education some, would be of interest to us.
What is the recommended maximum budget request? If $200,000 is the total, would an average budget be in the range of $50,000?
CASIS has $200,000 dedicated to this NLRA and anticipates awarding 3 or more projects; project budgets should be in the range of $50,000-$75,000.
Can reduced Facilities and Administrative cost rates (F&A) be used as a match?
Yes, reduction in F&A can be used as in-Kind contributions or matching funds.
Would programs that focus on undergraduate and graduate research initiative but include outreach efforts to local high schools be a better fit than a singular focus on one education level?
When we look at reach and depth, we want to have the largest reach possible and expanding to multiple grade levels is going to expand reach. We do not have a set number that we are looking at, but with digital engagement, it is to increase reach and for higher education, we want to encourage and get students in higher education excited about looking at the LEO economy and excited about working in the area.
Will you fund more than 3 projects if some of them are low cost or only require ISS/crew time?
Yes, we would like to award 3 projects through this NLRA. It is possible that CASIS could make more than 3 awards if we receive lower or no cost projects that are only requesting allocation or access to crew time. There is no limit to the number of awards, but there is a limit on available funds.
Can Post-Docs be the project lead, i.e., PI, for this solicitation?
Yes, a Post-Doc can be a lead PI, but the goal of the project must be STEM education rather than advancing fundamental research.
Where can we find a list of previously funded projects?
A list of previously funded CASIS projects can be found in our online database at https://www.issnationallab.org/projects/. You can sort by project type and there is an Education category to browse only education projects.
Does the project need to be self-sufficient, or can astronauts interact with it and what are the limitations?
There are some limitations that we must consider, but a project does not need to be self-sufficient. We anticipate seeing an increase in crew time over the coming years and some of the limitations that have existed in the past may not be quite as stringent. If your proposal has a requirement for crew time, indicate how much time you think that would be as part of your Concept Summary and we will be able to provide feedback as to whether it is feasible to support the level of crew effort.
Is there a minimum amount of funding that should be requested in order not to be taken as a frivolous request?
We anticipate receiving some proposals that will require no funding or a very small amount. Some applicants may not require CASIS funding as they may have established a partnership that is supporting the work.
Is the budget of $200,000 per year, or inclusive of all years of performance?
The total available funds for this NLRA is $200,000 to cover all years.
Would Digital Engagement and literacy also include individuals in transition learning computer literacy for Digitized Data Sets and Visualization?
We are not only interested in flight projects. Many if not most of our partners are developing programming that is ground based and leverages either assets or information related to ISS National Lab science or R&D in LEO. Projects targeting underserved communities working toward digital engagement of broader audiences and targeting higher education, even if it does not involve a flight component, would be in the scope of this NLRA.
Is funding awarded as a one-time payment or multi-year?
It depends on the timeline of the project, but most projects are multi-payment based on milestones. The standard project has multiple payments throughout the duration of the project. The grants provide funding based on incurred direct and indirect costs.
From a budget standpoint, what is the value of up mass and crew time?
As part of our Cooperative Agreement with NASA and as a public service, the cost associated with up mass and crew time is covered by the US Government and NASA. This cost does not need to be included in your budget. You would need to include what your requirements would be for those resources, but you do not need to include the cost.
Can funding be used to build programming facilities, i.e., construction of facilities for ground-based space programming?
It is not impossible for funds to be used for facilities construction, but it very unlikely that a project asking for facility funding would be selected. CASIS is looking for projects that are ready for student engagement and already have the facilities necessary to do that.
Regarding Education for STEM including home schooled students, would this be applicable toward the work and experiments for the ISSNL and CASIS?
Yes, there are many of our programs that work with non-traditional students, whether it is informal education or home school students. There are large populations of groups that meet those under representative demographics.
Could funding be used to pay for programming staff or is it only for budgeting materials needed to complete the program mission?
Yes, previous projects have included funding for programming staff. You may include that as part of the cost of your project, however, any payments that CASIS makes for staff must be for U.S. persons. This puts a secondary limitation on who you can have as part of your team if you are going to include that cost as part of your budget.
I would like to submit a proposal for an experiment in Microgravity and Terrestrial. Would it be acceptable to include both in one proposal or submit separately?
If you have an experiment that requires resource allocation for a flight and includes a ground control or programming that is going to be executed on the ground with students based on the microgravity component of the activity, it is acceptable to submit in the same Concept Summary or Proposal.
I am looking for the astronauts to show and describe systems on the ISS such as the power and life support. Would an hour of the astronaut’s time be reasonable?
It is dependent on how in depth you are looking, the videoing and how many takes that would require. For the Step-1 phase, use your best judgement and estimation and that will be further refined in subsequent proposal development, that said, one hour is a reasonable starting point.
Would CASIS cover the cost to develop an app?
Yes, development of an app would fall under digital engagement and would be within the scope of this NLRA.
What is the average grant amount?
CASIS has $200,000 dedicated to this NLRA and anticipates awarding 3 or more projects; project budgets should be in the range of $50,000-$75,000.
What capacity are the students from K-12 expected to participate within the research?
CASIS’ current K-12 programming involves some programs that are extremely intensive and require hundreds of hours of student participation and have a very broad reach. Other programs are smaller and require less student time, but still bring great value for establishing science literacy in our youth. For this NLRA, some components are targeting and reaching underrepresented demographics, so that would need to be included and we are also looking at ways to increase digital engagement with that K-12 community or higher education.
Can you describe the evaluation process?
To evaluate proposals, CASIS has a scoring rubric and a scoring guide that is used by a combination of the internal CASIS staff as well as external Subject Matter Experts for proposal evaluation. There is a numerical scoring rubric, and all the Offerors will have access to the scoring metrics and guidance. Offerors are encouraged to look at that before you submit your proposal to make sure you are addressing all the criteria. A complete proposal evaluation instruction is provided with the solicitation
Would Space Grant Consortia be able to apply?
Yes, but the institution submitting the concept application must be compliant with all requirements as defined in the NLRA.
Since historically the focus has been on K-12, would programs that promote a college program for SSEP while promoting outreach to local high schools with partner programs for engaging them in a CubeSat initiative be a better fit than just focusing on high education student bodies?
The target audience for the STEM program is at the discretion of the Principal Investigator, but the program must clearly define the target audience to be engaged and how the program will be developed to increase the breadth and depth of STEM for that audience.
Would CASIS require an organization to obtain an IRB for a beta-study/Phase 1 in Human-Computer-Interphase study?
Yes, an IRB would be required, but note that access to crew and approval of crew as test subjects is likely beyond the scope of this NLRA.
With few astronauts of color, how can we request that as part of the proposal to address diversity?
It is within the purview of the Principal Investigator to note increasing diversity and inclusion as an objective of their concept and to identify key components of their proposal that would be required or requested to support program goals.
I do not have a program, but is there a possibility to become an evaluator?
If you are interested in becoming a CASIS Subject Matter Expert, please visit our website to submit your information to become a reviewer https://www.issnationallab.org/research-on-the-iss/request-for-science-reviewers/.
Can an organization submit more than one proposal?
Yes, an organization can submit multiple proposals, provided the emphasis areas and research topics are different for each proposal.
Would you have panoramic images of the interior of the ISS for us to use?
ISS NL does not have panoramas of ISS. Panoramas have been created in the past by stitching together multiple photographs. Images of the ISS interior are available directly from NASA at: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/multimedia/index.html
Can someone with H1B visa apply?
Unfortunately, no. The PI on the proposal must be a U.S. Person as defined by U.S. export laws. The PI may have a non-U.S. Person (unless the person is a citizen of a nation on the NASA designated countries list) on the team as a subcontractor or participant, but CASIS cannot directly contract with or award funding to a non-U.S. Person. The offeror has sole responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable U.S. export regulations.
Can you please define what is considered as project costs versus implementation costs?
Project costs are those costs for the organization and the Principal Investigator to perform its proposed project; they are the internal costs for supplies, materials, labor, and anything else associated with the project from the organization. The implementation costs are those costs for the Implementation Partner to perform its services and provide its materials to prepare the project for flight to station and performance on station. If there is no Implementation Partner, there are no implementation costs. Most flight projects will need an Implementation Partner to provide research, engineering, technical services, specific hardware, or payload facilities.
Will the funding support development and installation of exhibit-housed interactives?
Yes, if your exhibit’s intent is to reach the targeted audience, we are looking to engage.
Is there the potential to submit and be awarded a project that spans more than one year? Is there a limit to the number of years allowed in one submission?
Period of Performance: It is anticipated that the period of performance will be no longer than three (3) years from date of award.
Can “one, two” proposals be submitted? Meaning, could the team submit a proposal with initial elements in Y1 and then a second proposal that builds upon the initial in Y2 or Y3?
Yes, more than one proposal can be submitted, however if they are all related to one project/focus/objective that require the others for completion, please submit them in one proposal.
Is there a cap on the indirect rate? If the rate is 60%, do you accept that rate or do you have a maximum?
If it is a federally negotiated rate, CASIS can accept the rate as long as it can be covered within the total proposed budget.
May a group of international students submit an online engagement educational proposal or any other type of proposal?
A group of international students by themselves could not submit a proposal. The principal investigator and submitting organization are required to be a U.S. Person and a U.S. Entity. It would be possible for a group of international students to be part of a team lead by a U.S. Person and Entity as long as the U.S. organization is willing to take responsibility for the export licensing and follow all export regulations.
If my concept was approved in cycle 1, can I submit my full proposal for the July deadline?
No, if you were invited to submit a proposal in cycle 1 but cannot make the May 24 deadline, you will need to resubmit your concept summary to be considered during the second cycle of the NLRA. The concepts cannot rollover for consideration in cycle 2; you must resubmit.
What makes a proposal stand out during the review process?
The review criteria are available on the NLRA webpage. Proposal evaluators will follow a scoring rubric that is clearly defined. As an applicant, you should review the proposal guidelines and evaluation criteria early to be sure you include all the required information in your proposal.
Can academic institutions partner with one another or with other centers such as a Challenger Center or K-12?
Yes, those partnerships can be impactful. CASIS Space Station Explorers Consortium members are eager to partner to leverage resources for new products and programs. If there is someone you are interested in partnering with, let us know, and we may be able to assist.
How does NLRA 2021-8 differ from NLRA 2021-4? Are they sharing the same funding pool, or are they separate?
The NLRAs are sharing the same funding pool. This second cycle is very similar to the first, with only a minor difference. For the first cycle, we anticipated funding 3-4 projects. For this second cycle, we want to leave it more open-ended in terms of funding per proposal because some projects may not fall within the scope of that budget level, and some may be more expensive. Some PIs may be partnering with another organization and do not require any funding, only allocation. For this cycle of the NLRA, we wanted to be more flexible on funding per proposal.
Could you elaborate more on the requirements and expectations for the partnership process?
There are many partnership types. If that is something of interest to you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get more information on the type of partnership of interest and would then be able to provide the proper guidance.
Approximately how many awards will be given in total for cycles 1 & 2 of the NLRA?
Originally, we had planned to award 3-4 projects; however, we know that may not fit within the scope of the total funding available of $200,000. There is flexibility if we receive meritorious projects that are fully funded.
What kind of organizations work with international students? Is that specified on the NLRA website?
Many types of organizations work with international students: universities, nonprofit organizations, and commercial entities have all worked with international students on past projects. Principal investigators would need to make those connections on their own initiative; CASIS would not be involved in the process.
What are the evaluation criteria for Step 1 Concept Summaries?
You will want to be sure that the proposed concept is focused on STEM, is feasible, and aligns with the scope of the NLRA. The specific evaluation criteria are available in the “CASIS Proposal Evaluator Instructions” guidebook and can be downloaded on the NLRA 2021-8 webpage by selecting the Download Step 2 Required Forms button.
What is the maximum budget that can be requested?
The total funding available for NLRA-4 and NLRA-8 is $200,000. We are leaving the number of awards open-ended. It is possible that one proposal may be awarded the full amount; however, we desire to make multiple awards. Only proposals that score well in both digital engagement and developing higher education will be considered for award.
If we apply for a proposal two different ways, what kind of focus do you want to see beyond just the convenience of separating the age groups in an after-school program?
If the focus is digital engagement, then there would be separate content for each age group. You would need to include details in the proposal on the planned content for each age group and the budget amount to be dedicated to each.
If the current high school/undergrad program I run is only one month long, is it within the scope of this NLRA to submit a new track for which student engagement would essentially be for only one month versus throughout a calendar year?
Yes, you can propose a concept for a one-month project. We would look at the number of students reached and the impact.
If we applied for NLRA-4, can we request more funds for the same program in NLRA-8 or should we request more funds in the NLRA-4 full proposal application?
If you believe additional funding would benefit the proposed project, you can request more funding in your NLRA-4 Step 2 Full Proposal instead of requesting additional funding through NLRA-8. You will know the results of NLRA-4 selection process before you submit your proposal for NLRA-8, so you can adjust your request if required.
Will astronauts be available to assist in creating video and educational products onboard the ISS, and who would we talk to in order to get approval?
Yes, astronauts are available. In your concept summary, you would need to include details such as the scope of work that would be required of the ISS crew, how much time is required, and the content the astronauts would cover. Astronauts are not permitted to endorse products, but if you want them to show something on station or talk about an educational component, then that could be considered under this NLRA. For planning purposes, include the timing on when the crew time would be needed in your concept summary (e.g., is it in the next few months or the next school year?).
Can we propose crew time to support education projects?
Yes, if you have something you want the crew to do or to demonstrate, include that in your concept summary along with the estimated time required.
Can the proposal be for a flight opportunity for a payload that has already been developed?
Yes, however, in your concept summary, you must include details on what you want to accomplish so that CASIS can determine the feasibility for conducting the work on station. If you are working toward developing a payload for station, you will need to work with an Implementation Partner. If you need more information on identifying an Implementation Partner, you can email Ops@ISSNationalLab.org or visit www.issnationallab.org/implementation-partners to browse, select, and contact an Implementation Partner.
For video on the ISS, it is difficult to put time and detail in a three-page proposal. How do we include it all without going over the page limit? Can we leave parts out?
If you are proposing a video series with different segments, briefly state the topics of the segments and provide a summary in your Step 1 Concept Summary . The Step 2 Full Proposal is where you would provide more details on the proposed project. It is not recommended that you leave any required content out of your concept summary.
What is the maximum amount of crew time that can be requested?
CASIS does have a limit on crew time, so it is key to be flexible. The easiest way to approach the use of crew time for these types of activities is to put them on a task list, and the crew will complete tasks on the list as they have time available. There is generally not a time limit per project, but it is harder to complete if hours of time are required.
If we are applying to NLRA-4 for an after-school program that caters to high school and middle school students, can we also apply separately to NLRA-8 for either just a middle school or high school program?
Yes, you can submit a proposal in response to the cycle 2 that focusses on either middle school or high school.
Is it reasonable to ask for something to be attached or deployed outside at a particular place in orbit?
Yes, however, this type of concept would need to be developed working with an Implementation Partner and could potentially be expensive, as it would be more complex to execute. Please keep in mind, through this NLRA, we are not looking for science to be the main focus of the experiment but rather the STEM component should be highlighted.
Is it reasonable to ask for food to be harvested, consumed, and the flavors assessed?
It is possible but not recommended. Any flight experiment requiring the crew to consume agricultural products grown and harvested on station will require review and approval by the NASA Human Research Program, a NASA Institutional Review Board, and/or other NASA boards of inquiry for experiments seeking to use human subjects. Permissions from multiple programs within NASA are required in reference to what the crew consumes, and an Implementation Partner would be required to assist in developing the concept. Fresh food production experiments have been conducted in space (for example, using the Veggie platform, which is used to harvest plants that are consumed), but these required extensive development and review for flight. This would be a project where you would need to partner with a Implementation Partner that is familiar with the Veggie platform, as there are many steps to be taken to be sure the plants that are grown are safe for the crew to consume, and the plants must be free of any microbial contamination.
Is deploying a CubeSat that focuses on STEM education for an undergraduate program a possibility?
Yes, that would fall within the scope of this NLRA. There has been previous work done in this area, and it would require working with an Implementation Partner to develop the concept.
Where can we see a list of previously awarded STEM projects?
Please visit www.issnationallab.org/projects to view a list of previously awarded projects.
What is the temperature difference between day and night in space?
The temperature on the side of the ISS facing the Sun can reach 121°C. The side facing away from the Sun can reach as low as -157°C, resulting in a thermal difference of almost 300°C.