Three new commercial experiments are getting started on the International
Space Station, marking a major milestone for NASA’s Commercial Space
Centers — 17 centers across the United States that help industry conduct
space experiments.

The experiments were launched into orbit on April 19 on the Space Shuttle
Endeavor on the STS-100 mission, Space Station Flight 6A. The Space
Station Expedition Two crew are setting up the three commercial payloads
and beginning experiments. These experiments will remain on board the
Station until the end of Expedition Two, at the end of July, when the
Space Shuttle Discovery will return them to Earth.

The three experiments slated for Space Station Expedition Two explore
areas of the fast-growing fields of biotechnology and agriculture.ÝOne
experiment is growing plants aboard the Space Station. Another examines
why antibiotic production by microbes is enhanced in microgravity. A
third is testing a new piece of equipment for crystallizing more than
1,000 biological samples.

NASA’s commercial partners have been busy preparing for the flight.
During the mission, some of them will work in new remote control centers
set up with NASA’s help.ÝFrom these ground control centers, students,
teachers and industry partners will be able to communicate with the crew
and send commands to their experiments on the Space Station — 233 miles
above Earth. Investigators at these telescience centers can talk with
the crew and send experiment commands through NASA’s Payload Operations
Center at the Marshall Center.

“Industry investment in space remains high,” said Mark Nall, manager of
NASA’s Space Product Development Program at the Marshall Center. “We
assist companies developing experiments and help them explore how space
research can contribute to the growth of their businesses.”

Industry funds the research, pays for a portion of launch costs, and
brings resulting products or services to market. Because a company pays
for the research, it has the opportunity to commercialize products that
may be developed as a result of the research.

Bristol-Myers Squibb — a New York-based international pharmaceutical
company — is sponsoring the antibiotic experiments being conducted in
the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA) during Expedition
Two. These experiments study the effects of microgravity — the near
weightless environment inside an orbiting spacecraft — on bacterial
growth processes used to produce medicines.

The company has flown experiments aboard three Space Shuttle flights.
Initial study results indicate that space flight has a stimulating
effect on microbial antibiotic production, with increases in specific
productivity of up to about 200 percent compared to ground control

“Our collaboration with NASA not only puts our researchers in the
forefront of science, but also gives us the opportunity of being first
in our field to develop major new technologies and products,” said Ray
Lam, senior principal scientist of the natural products department at
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s research facility in Wallingford, Conn. — part
of the company’s pharmaceutical research institute.

Based on these successful, preliminary results, the company recently
funded a research program on the International Space Station. Space
Station flights are much longer than Shuttle flights, allowing the
company to determine if these stimulating effects continue over time
as exposure to space is increased from under two weeks to more than
two months. Information gained from the space research could be used
to enhance research that increases the efficiency of drug production
in ground-based facilities.

To fly the experiment in space, Bristol-Myers Squibb works with one of
NASA’s Commercial Space Centers — BioServe Space Technologies at the
University of Colorado in Boulder. BioServe built the Commercial Generic
Bioprocessing Apparatus, which has been flown on several Shuttle missions.
BioServe set up and opened a remote ground control site for monitoring
experiments and collecting data at the University of Colorado.

NASA has helped establish Commercial Space Centers, like BioServe, with
specialized areas of technical expertise. These centers are located across
the United States. Eleven are managed by the Space Product Development
Program, are jointly funded by NASA, industry and academia, and must meet
stringent review requirements for commercial space flight research.

Most of the centers are located on university campuses and work closely
with other academic and government research institutions. The centers
have agreements with almost 200 firms, including Bristol-Myers Squibb,
ALCOA, Amgen, DuPont, Eli Lily and Company, Space Explorers Inc.,
Monsanto Company and Polaroid.

Another experiment being delivered to the Space Station this month —
the ADVANCED ASTROCULTUREô — will allow companies interested in
agriculture and agribusiness to conduct long-term plant research. Starting
with Space Station Expedition Two, industry will be able to grow plants
in space over an entire life cycle — from seeds to plants to seeds.

For the Expedition Two experiment, scientists will grow Arabidopsis, a
member of the Brassica plant family that includes cabbage and radishes.
The Space Station provides an ideal laboratory for growing plants and
studying the influence gravity has played as plants evolved on Earth.
This is particularly important for studying the way a plant’s traits,
such as disease resistance and nutrition, are determined genetically.

Space Explorers Inc., of De Pere, Wis., is the commercial partner for
this experiment. The company will use data from the experiment to develop
the commercial curricula called Orbital Laboratory. This Internet-based
multimedia software program allows students to design, conduct and
analyze a Space Station experiment.

The ADVANCED ASTROCULTUREô was built by the Wisconsin Center for Space
Automation and Robotics (WCSAR), a NASA Commercial Space Center located
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Ý It will be monitored and
operated by WCSAR staff working at a remote ground center at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The ASTROCULTUREô plant growth chamber, a precursor to the ADVANCED
ASTROCULTUREô, has flown on six Space Shuttle missions and on a long-
duration Shuttle/Mir mission, growing plants such as wheat, mustard and

The third Expedition Two commercial experiment is the Commercial Protein
Crystal Growth — High Density experiment sponsored by the Center for
Biophysical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Alabama at
Birmingham. This new Space Station experiment holds 1,008 samples,
while previous Shuttle hardware contained only 128 samples.

The ability to carry more samples is crucial to investigating the
conditions that encourage these biological solutions to form crystals.
If the crystals form in an orderly fashion, their structure can be
analyzed on Earth. By determining the structure of these biological
substances, scientists can learn how they work in humans, animals, and
plants, including what roles they play in diseases. The Space Station
provides a platform for growing crystals that are difficult to grow
on Earth and require longer periods of microgravity than have been
available on shorter Shuttle missions.

NASA has manifested more commercial experiments for upcoming Space Station
expeditions. To learn more about these experiments and for a complete list
of NASA’s Commercial Space Center Web sites, visit:

The Web

* Space Station fact sheets

* Space Product Development of Space

* Commercial Development of Space

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