Commentary | Making ISS a Research Success
The international space station (ISS) offers the potential to use the unique physical and microgravity environment and the vantage point of space to benefit society on Earth in many ways. These include opportunities for:
- Achieving research and development (R&D) breakthroughs relevant to industrial processes.
- Obtaining better understanding of our world and universe.
- Creating new understandings of and treatments for diseases.
- Providing more diverse opportunities for technology testing in space.
- Developing techniques and processes benefiting manufacturing and consumer products.
We the undersigned strongly believe in the ISS and its potential to advance both space research and space commercialization. However, in order for the ISS to be a successful research facility that routinely carries out world-class R&D and science, we believe that:
- The ISS would greatly benefit from improved utilization policies that emphasize and facilitate research.
- Process improvements should be implemented to make it easier for researchers to utilize the ISS.
- Additional government funding should be allocated to promote ISS-based research, including expanded access to the ISS and the funding of new experiments and facilities on ISS.
- Incentives must be created that allow intellectual property retention by U.S. companies and encourage them to perform corporate research on ISS.
Accomplishing these objectives will require new and decisive action by NASA, the Congress and the White House, working together.
Toward that end, the following specific steps are recommended for expeditious implementation:
- Increase the current funding level within the ISS budget for developing new experiments and facilities onboard ISS so that they more nearly equal an effort as large as NASA’s effective Explorer science flight program. This will require NASA to nearly quadruple the current $50 million a year proposed for ISS research, for example, from other funds within the ISS program.
- Create more effective tax incentives for commercial firms to utilize the ISS or fund R&D on the station.
- Enable routine, fast cycle time (months, not years), low paperwork paths to experimentation, and commercial uses of the ISS to lower barriers to entry for research groups and companies.
- Facilitate the development of intellectual property reforms to allow commercial firms and academia to more easily retain the intellectual property they develop aboard the ISS.
- Triple the current 35 crew hours per week (only 6 percent of all U.S. crew time on ISS) available for research.
- Create substantially more rapid delivery times of biological samples to ISS than the current three days.
- Create an ISS payload specialist program that puts multiple academic and commercial researchers aboard the ISS, at least for short stays, every year.
We the undersigned stand ready to assist NASA, the Congress and the White House in achieving a more successful ISS by helping to implement the recommendations above, and in messaging to the public, the research community and the commercial interests about the exciting potential of the ISS.
Ken Bowersox, former NASA astronaut
James Cantrell, president and chief executive, |Strategic Space Development Inc.
Andrew Chaikin, space historian and author
Steven Collicott, professor of aerospace engineering, |Purdue University
Tom Crabb, president, Orbital Technologies Corp.
Art Dula, chief executive, Excalibur Almaz
Edward Ellegood, former director, Spaceport Florida Authority; director of aerospace development, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Robert Farquhar, senior mission designer, KinetX Corp.
Andrew Gasser, president and national coordinator, |TEA Party in Space
Adrian LeBlanc, former director, Division of Space Life |Sciences, Universities Space Research Association
Millie-Hughes Fulford, former shuttle payload specialist
Jeffrey Greason, chief executive, XCOR Aerospace
Dale Ketcham, director, Spaceport Research & |Technology Institute
Dr. Benjamin Levine, director, Institute for Exercise and |Environmental Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Howard Levine, president, American Society of Gravitational and Space Research
Todd Lindner, senior manager for aviation and space |development, Jacksonville Spaceport, Florida
John Logsdon, founder, Space Policy Institute, |George Washington University
Taber McCallum, chief executive and chief technology officer, Paragon Space Development Co.
James Muncy, co-founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Andrew Nelson, chief operating officer, XCOR Aerospace
George D. Nelson, former NASA astronaut
Neal R. Pellis, director, Division of Space Life Sciences, |Universities Space Research Association
Kim Prisk, professor of medicine and radiology, |University of California, San Diego
Richard Searfoss, former NASA shuttle commander; |chief test pilot, XCOR
Mark Shelhammer, professor, Johns Hopkins Medical School
Craig Steidle, former NASA associate administrator for |exploration; former president, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
S. Alan Stern, former NASA associate administrator for science
Rick Tumlinson, co-founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Charlie Walker, former space shuttle payload specialist
Mark Weislogel, microgravity scientist
Lawrence Williams, principal, Capture10
Stuart Witt, president, Mojave Spaceport, California
Larry Young, professor emeritus of aerospace engineering, MIT; former director, NASA Space Biomedical Research Institute