Welcome to the inaugural issue of Upward, the quarterly magazine of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Upward is published by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) as part of our mission to manage and enable access to the ISS National Lab. This is our communal forum to highlight research and education for the national lab on the station. Although managing a national laboratory in low Earth orbit is not an easy task, it is inspiring to be even a small part of the enterprise to bring tomorrow home to Earth by promoting research and technology development in space. Therefore, for us, “upward” is not merely a direction pointing to a new destination over the next horizon but rather a sense of perspective and purpose to reach beyond our grasp for better things yet to come.
Like all national labs, the ISS National Lab is a research facility that offers professional researchers, student investigators, innovators, and entrepreneurs unique and unparalleled opportunity for discovery using rare and precious tools to foster scientific return. Unlike any other national lab, however, the ISS National Lab is a mobile laboratory operating in an environment off of Earth for the benefit of life on Earth. The space station provides a microgravity environment and space exposure facility for researchers to conduct experiments in biotechnology/technology, health and medicine, Earth and space science, life sciences, physical sciences, remote sensing, and a myriad of other fundamental and translational fields. It is a platform for near-boundless exploration in an environment where gravity does not hold sway and the future of living and operating in space is an everyday reality. The ISS is your gateway to space and beyond the boundaries of imagination.
In this issue, you will learn about a few of the research activities on the ISS National Lab and events supported by CASIS back on Earth to engage and grow the community of space explorers and innovators who will build near-Earth space into a new marketplace of ideas, enterprise, and commerce. In an article by Amelia Smith, you will read how plants in space negotiate the absence of gravity to give direction to roots and shoots, and in turn, inform us about the mysteries of plant life on Earth. Marc Giulianotti describes the significant and surprising medical advances for the treatment of human disease made possible by creating habitats that allow mice and rats to live in space on station so that scientists can monitor the dramatic effects of microgravity on bones and muscles and the efficacy of front-line drugs designed to prevent musculoskeletal diseases like osteoporosis. And discovery is by no means limited to the lab and events inside of the station. Emily Tomlin contributes an article on the utilization of the station as an Earth observation platform with powers unlike any traditional Earth-orbiting satellites.
We invite you to read along and learn more about a few of the many exciting and challenging adventures in science, engineering, and education that await you in space. Neil deGrasse Tyson observed that “We went to the Moon and discovered Earth.” I believe that we went to space to build an international space station and discovered humanity. Join us and accelerate the pace of your discovery to 27,600 km/h (17,100 mph). Join us in longing for the endless immensity (and boundless potential) of space. Upward!