The Center for Applied Space Technology (CAST), is a 501(c)3 enterprise with headquarters in Northeast Florida and an office at the Kennedy Space Center. CAST was established at the request of a team of space life sciences engineers and researchers with the mission to “identify and promote the innovative application of space-enabled and space-enabling technologies”. The CAST focus areas are research, education, and workforce development. CAST capitalizes on relationships generated over 25 years of aerospace experience, particularly with NASA, the ISSNL, the commercial space industry, research institutions, and the academic community to craft and support initiatives that advance access to space, space-based research, and the commercialization of space applications.
Since its founding, the Center has initiated or participated in a number of education and workforce development initiatives built around the needs and opportunities presented by the aerospace industry. Most importantly, CAST has ensured that there is a strong educational component incorporated in every supported research program. Working with its academic and industry partners, CAST has created and implemented numerous age appropriate and STEM-focused educational opportunities. Most significantly, CAST participates in a number of programs designed to promote aerospace-based STEM education to underserved and underrepresented communities.
CAST provided innovative programs in support of the transition of the space shuttle workforce into other career fields following the fly-out of the shuttle program and has worked closely with activities such as SpaceTEC to advance credential-based training and qualifications for aerospace technicians. CAST leadership has also worked with a variety of academic institutions and industry members to promote pre-apprentice and apprenticeship opportunities.
Since 2014, CAST has facilitated space-based medicine research, primarily with our partners at the Mayo Clinic Space Medicine Program, through the full range of spaceflight opportunities including high altitude balloon, parabolic flight, suborbital launch, and orbital flight on board ISS. CAST is focused on contributing to space-based research that might have global health implications for the Earth-bound populace. In particular, an understanding of cell processes and characteristics in the environment of microgravity is a promising area of discovery and application. Applied space-based research on the impact of reduced gravity on human stem cell expansion, efficacy, and viability might be translated into clinical applications in a wide range of fields including, but not limited to stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and the spectrum of cancers. Exploiting specific characteristics of stem cells in microgravity may also have far-ranging impacts on drug development and personalized medicine.