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 a 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 “U.S. persons,” per the reference in the solicitation.
What do you mean by programming?
Programming is a set of activities with a common aim or objective. For example: Zero Robotics programming engages middle and high school students in coding competitions that utilize SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) on the space station. Orion’s Quest programming leverages datasets and research being done on station to develop curriculum.
What percentage of Step 1: Concept Summaries do you anticipate inviting to submit Step 2: Full 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 research announcements, 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 may be content or curriculum that could benefit from a website to promote collaboration or an application that increases accessibility by employing 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, but we do have limitations. The standard limitation for an indirect rate is 10%. However, if the offeror’s 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 could be an opportunity for offerors to expand a project they are already working on. Offerors that have a research project and would like to incorporate a STEM education component or offerors with a STEM education project they would like to expand can apply to this NLRA.
Do you have a diversity or inclusion statement?
One of the requirements stated in the full research announcement is a requirement to target and engage underserved communities.
Can we utilize current Space Station Explorers programming technologies to support K-12 engagement or only new programming?
We encourage you to reach out to our Space Station Explorers partner programs to collaborate on projects. These partner programs have background knowledge and resources available as well as some partnerships already in place. CASIS also recommends engaging with ISS National Lab Implementation Partners.
Can the education program be established leveraging the existing data from ISS experiments?
Yes, there are some very good datasets available, and we encourage offerors to utilize the datasets and content that already exist. For example, NASA’s Gene Lab has amazing datasets, and a project could be developed utilizing this data.
If I have a flight experiment on the ISS, can I submit a proposal that is leveraged by that experiment?
Yes, offerors can utilize the work being done on station to develop an education program. For example, the Orion’s Quest program leverages datasets and research being done on station to develop curriculum.
Can you elaborate on higher education; would it include master’s and Ph.D. programs?
Yes, we welcome 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. Offerors with proposals that require crew time should indicate in their Concept Summary how much time they think would be required, and we can 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?
Offerors do not need to have an Implementation Partner (IP) identified for the Step 1 submission, but an estimate of the cost for an IP is required for Step 1. Offerors are highly encouraged to work with an IP if they plan to submit a proposal for a flight experiment.
Who pays for the Implementation Partner? Does it come from the submitted budget?
Offerors proposing a flight project can include Implementation Partner costs in their 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?
Offerors can apply to multiple NLRAs but should select the one that is the best fit for their focus area.
Is there a recommended or required project start date?
Our goal is to announce awards and begin the contracting process in the August-September timeframe. Project start dates would be in the September-October timeframe.
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. For example, evaluation and outcome tracking would be different for projects that engage students directly versus an online engagement tool. We look for our programs and partners to align with NGSS standards, which are Common Core standards that meet strict requirements.
I am an undergraduate research student in the U.S., but I am not a U.S. citizen. Is it a requirement?
Offerors are required to be a U.S. person, as defined by the Code of Federal Regulations at 22 CFR §120.15. Individuals that are not a U.S. person are welcome to coordinate with their organization or university to be part of a team, but individuals cannot be the project lead if they 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?
Yes, offerors can build on something taking a new angle as long as it is within the scope of the NLRA. Prior programming done at the K-12 level, or even a flight experiment at the K-12 level, could be expanded to reach new audiences in underserved communities, particularly with an emphasis on digital engagement or extending the programming into higher education.
What is the recommended maximum budget request?
CASIS has $400,000 dedicated to this NLRA and anticipates awarding four to eight projects.
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 initiatives but include outreach efforts to local high schools be a better fit than a singular focus on one education level?
There is no set number of students a program is required to reach; however, programs should aim for the largest reach possible. Focusing a program on multiple grade levels and utilizing digital engagement are some ways to increase reach.
Will you fund more than eight projects if some of them are low cost or only require ISS/crew time?
It is possible that CASIS could make more than eight awards if we receive lower-cost or no-cost projects that only require allocation or crew time. There is no limit to the number of awards, but there is a limit on available funds.
Can postdocs be the project lead, i.e., PI, for this solicitation?
Yes, a postdoc can be a PI, but the goal of the project must be STEM education rather than advancing research.
Where can we find a list of previously funded projects?
A list of previously funded projects can be found in our online database at www.issnationallab.org/projects/. The list can be sorted 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. Offerors with proposals that require crew time should indicate in their Concept Summary how much time they think would be required, and we can 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 of funding. For example, some offerors may not require CASIS funding because they have established a partnership that is supporting the work.
Is the budget of $400,000 per year, or inclusive of all years of performance?
The total available funds for this NLRA is $400,000 to cover all years.
Is funding awarded as a one-time payment or multiyear payment?
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 upmass and crew time?
As part of our Cooperative Agreement with NASA and as a public service, the cost associated with upmass and crew time is covered by the U.S. government and NASA. This cost does not need to be included in the project budget. Offerors would need to include the requirements for those resources, but the cost does not need to be included.
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 development, 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 ISS National Lab and CASIS?
Yes, many of our educational programs work with nontraditional students, whether it is in an informal education setting or a home school setting.
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. Offerors may include that as part of the project cost; however, any payments that CASIS makes for staff must be for U.S. persons. This means that including costs for programming staff in the project budget puts a secondary limitation on who offerors can include as part of their team because all team members would have to be U.S. persons.
I would like to submit a proposal for an experiment in microgravity and on Earth. 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 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 depends on how in depth the astronaut would need to get and how many video takes would be required. For the Step 1 phase, offerors should use their best judgement to estimate the amount of crew time needed. The estimate can be further refined in subsequent full proposal development. That said, one hour seems to be 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 $400,000 dedicated to this NLRA and anticipates awarding four to eight projects.
What capacity are the students from K-12 expected to participate within the research?
Current ISS National Lab K-12 educational programming involves some programs that are 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 the next generation. This NLRA is aimed at increasing digital engagement in the K-12 community and higher education, and programs must target underrepresented demographics.
Can you describe the evaluation process?
To evaluate proposals, CASIS has a scoring rubric and a evaluation guide that is used by a combination of the internal CASIS staff and external subject matter experts. Offerors have access to the scoring metrics and evaluation guide, and are encouraged to review this information before submitting a proposal to make sure to address all criteria.
Would Space Grant Consortia be able to apply?
Yes, but the institution submitting the proposal 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 education 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 education 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?
Those interested in becoming a CASIS subject matter expert can visit our website to submit their information to become a reviewer 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?
The ISS National Lab does not have panoramas of the ISS. Panoramas have been created in the past by stitching together multiple photographs. Images of the ISS interior are available directly from NASA at 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 the Code of Federal Regulations at 22 CFR §120.15. 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 the exhibit’s intent is to reach the targeted audience, it would be in the scope of this NLRA.
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?
It is anticipated that the period of performance will be no longer than three 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 U.S. entity as long as the U.S. organization is willing to take responsibility for the export licensing and follow all export regulations.
What makes a proposal stand out during the review process?
The evaluation criteria are available on the NLRA webpage. Proposal evaluators will follow a scoring rubric that is clearly defined. Offerors should review the proposal guidelines and evaluation criteria early to be sure to include all the required information in their proposal in the order stated in the guidelines.
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. Space Station Explorers partner programs are eager to partner to leverage resources for new products and programs. Offerors interested in partnering with a specific Space Station Explorers partner program should let us know, and we may be able to assist.
Could you elaborate more on the requirements and expectations for the partnership process?
There are many partnership types. Offerors interested in partnerships should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get more information on the type of partnership of interest and provide the proper guidance.
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?
Offerors should ensure that the proposed concept is focused on STEM education, is feasible, and aligns with the scope of the NLRA. The specific evaluation criteria are available in the “CASIS Proposal Evaluator Instructions” and can be downloaded on the NLRA 2022-7 webpage by clicking on the “Download Step 2 Forms” button.
What is the maximum budget that can be requested?
The total funding set aside for this NLRA is $400,000, and we anticipate awarding four to eight projects.
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. Offerors 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, offerors can propose a concept for a one-month project. We would look at the number of students reached and the impact.
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. The offeror’s Concept Summary 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 offerors 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 in the Concept Summary the timing on when the crew time would be needed (e.g., is it in the next few months or the next school year?).
Can we propose crew time to support education projects?
Yes, offerors that have something they would like the crew to do or to demonstrate should include a description of the activities in their 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 the Concept Summary, offerors must include details on what they want to accomplish so that CASIS can determine the feasibility for conducting the work on station. Offerors are working toward developing a payload for station will need to work with an Implementation Partner. Offerors that would like more information on identifying an Implementation Partner 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?
Offerors proposing a video series with different segments should briefly state the topics of the segments and provide a summary in the Step1: Concept Summary. The Step 2: Full Proposal is where offerors can provide more details on the proposed project. However, it is not recommended to leave any required content out of the 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.
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 that for this NLRA, we are not looking for science to be the main focus but rather the STEM education component.
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.