NASA Solicits Public for Research Proposals on ISS

ISS:  Now Accepting ProposalsCredit : NASA

ISS: Now Accepting Proposals
Credit : NASA

When President Bush introduced the Vision for Space exploration 9 years ago, long term prospects for the International Space Station suddenly didn’t look so good.  As it turned out, ISS ultimately survived VSE and Project Constellation, with much of the American section of the station’s scientific research handed over to CASIS, the Center for the Advancement of Science,  which manages it as a U.S. National Lab.

One of the remaining aspects of the former plan still remains, and that is a narrowed focus on NASA sponsored station research which can benefit the agency’s (very) long term goals of space exploration, as evidenced by both the recent announcement of an agreement to host a Bigelow inflatable module for a two year stint, as well as the successfully concluded Robotic Refueling Mission using the Canadian supplied Dextre.

Not all the research is large scale or demands international collaboration however,  and along those lines,  the agency is issuing a  call for research proposals which is open to a wide variety of companies, non-profit and educational institutions.   While not  exactly crowd sourced research, it is as close as the agency gets, and even the smallest of groups as well as individuals inventors have an opportunity to compete.

According to the official NASA release:

“Proposed technologies should help advance exploration and research capabilities aboard the space station. Concepts must fit within existing NASA standards for mass and volume to meet requirements for current launch vehicles. Suggested areas include in-space propulsion; space power and energy storage; components of highly reliable, closed-loop, human health, life support and habitation systems; thermal systems; robotics, telerobotics, and autonomous systems; and human exploration destination systems.

Proposals for new exploration technologies could include strategies to reduce mass, maintenance and power requirements, while also increasing efficiency, reliability and safety. The idea could be a new technology or a new, improved use of existing space hardware. Proposals also may have the potential to yield benefits for humanity, such as testing a new material or stimulating economic growth.”

NASA will cover  launch and integration costs,  which must take place on existing vehicles, and possible supply funding for some proposals.  In other words, in addition to helping build a renewed knowledge base for deep space exploration, winners stand a fair chance of seeing their experiments blasted into space and a returned to Earth aboard the most transformational system of the era, the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon Capsule. Something of a win-win.  As recent collaborations demonstrate, this is not your parent’s aloof and detached NASA.  Come up with something.

The complete announcment”Soliciting Proposals for Exploration Technology Demonstration and National Lab Utilization Enhancements,” is available here.

Posted in: NASA, Space Stations

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