Eligibility and Compliance
Is this open to academic institutions or companies to apply?
Both U.S. academic institutions and companies are welcome to apply.
If a PI has a current CASIS grant, would they be able to apply to this NLRA?
Yes, offerors with a current CASIS grant can apply to this NLRA.
In the future, will there be opportunities for experiments to be open to international investigators?
Unfortunately, no, CASIS is a U.S. taxpayer-funded organization, so our awarded projects are limited to U.S. persons and organizations. The PI and any Co-PI on the proposal must be a U.S. person as defined by U.S. export laws.
Is there a parallel National Science Foundation (NSF) funding opportunity to help support costs like you have for the NSF Transport Phenomena call for proposals?
The ISS National Lab has two collaborations with the National Science Foundation: one in the area of tissue engineering and one in transport phenomena. Both of these solicitations are currently going through the proposal submission process and are currently closed to new applications. There is no additional funding opportunity for this, but there is up to $750,000 available through this NLRA. Applicants can request funding to support both principal investigator and Implementation Partner costs. The meritoriousness of a proposed project is a factor considered when deciding how much funding will be awarded for a project.
What is the minimum technology readiness level (TRL) level for this grant?
There is no exact minimum, but the Research Announcement Proposal Instructions available on the NLRA webpage states that technologies proposed for testing should be beyond basic concept validation and should be focused on seeking technological maturity by utilizing the space environment. By the time an experiment has flown, it should be at a TRL of 6 (system/subsystem model or prototype demonstration) or higher.
Could you please provide an example of a past project that was selected for this specific solicitation?
Please visit our “Research on the ISS: In-Space Production Applications” webpage to see examples of materials and technologies that have flown on the ISS for capability demonstration and have shown that microgravity could have an impact.
Just to clarify, you are seeking projects that undergo all their manufacturing or synthesizing in space, not research that would help a manufacturing process back on Earth.
The distinction would be that offerors should be looking to bring something produced in space back to Earth and not necessarily just something learned. For example, there have been examples of crystal morphologies that have been produced in space that have not been accessible here on Earth. Those crystal morphologies could be produced on the ISS, brought back down, and then use those as seed crystals in manufacturing processes here on Earth. This would be an example of something produced on station, but the manufacturing would take place on Earth.
Do you accept proposals for biological processes?
Proposals for biological processes are not applicable for this NLRA but would fall under the scope of one of our Tissue Engineering and Biomanufacturing NLRAs. The next period for concept submission in that area will likely be in late 2022 or early 2023. Please watch the CASIS website for the schedule of upcoming NLRAs.
What optical systems examples would merit funding?
The material selected is up to the offeror and the identified customers, but projects should use the environment of the space station to produce superior materials in space for use on Earth that build toward a product or commercial service.
Is the opportunity based on manufacturing the material in space, not necessarily research that will help learn a different way of manufacturing on Earth? I am thinking about scale and how much production can be completed in space.
In general, we are looking for a material or process that will utilize space to develop an improved material, product, or service. In terms of scalability, we are looking at research-level projects that are a proof of concept for something that could be manufactured in space but will not actually be manufactured on the ISS at this time. There are many companies that anticipate building facilities in space and will be looking to serve as a manufacturing location, and the ISS National Lab is trying to develop the roadmap for those capabilities through these NLRAs.
Is microgravity the sole variable that is impactful on ISS research?
No, microgravity is not the sole variable impactful on ISS research. Microgravity is often the predominant variable that investigators are looking to take advantage of, but there are others who may be looking to utilize the harsh space environment that the ISS affords to take advantage of conditions such as ionizing or UV radiation, atomic oxygen, or ultrahigh vacuum. Any of these may be elements that could be useful in developing technologies.
Are there specific units to measure microgravity impacts on research?
If the question is in reference to measuring microgravity itself in orbit, there are various accelerometers available on station that can be discussed with an Implementation Partner.
Is there a format for the concept summary?
The Step 1: Concept Summary template is available via download from the NLRA webpage.
How important are research publications in the evaluation?
Providing research citations and references would help support the scientific merits of a proposed project. ISS National Lab proposals must go through an external science review, and although references are not required, they are encouraged.
Are we required to have identified an Implementation Partner with our Step 1: Concept Summary submission?
Identification of an Implementation Partner is not required at the Step 1: Concept Summary phase. Offerors are required to identify Implementation Partners in Step 2: Full Proposal submission and include a statement of work, budget estimate, and schedule from the chosen Implementation Partner. If requested, the ISS National Lab can facilitate identification and selection of an Implementation Partner through our online Implementation Partner Portal.
Is there any table or systematic summary that I can look up such that I could find the best suitable Implementation Partner?
Yes, a directory of our Implementation Partners is available here. Offerors may also contact the CASIS Operations team at OPS@issnationallabs.org for assistance in contacting an appropriate Implementation Partner through the ISS National Lab Implementation Partner Portal.