Space Florida, a state-backed economic development agency, said Sept. 5 that it will cover the cost of flying eight competitively selected research payloads to the international space station (ISS).

Space Florida said in a press release that it is partnering with NanoRacks LLC of Houston to host the Space Florida ISS Research Competition, proposals for which are due Oct. 31. Eight winners will be given the opportunity to fly their experiments to the ISS in standardized payload box units donated by NanoRacks, which operates experiment-hosting equipment aboard the U.S. National Laboratory portion of the ISS.

Space Florida and NanoRacks are hosting a preparatory workshop for applicants Oct. 5 at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, Fla. Representatives from NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) — the nonprofit manager of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory — will be on hand to advise attendees on the launch and research process, Space Florida said.

“This competition will provide unique incentive to both commercial and academic researchers,” Space Florida President Frank DiBello said in a statement. “Opportunities for competition winners to fly their research to the ISS while interfacing professionally with NanoRacks, NASA and ISS National Lab Manager CASIS is an exciting prospect.”

Meanwhile, CASIS made a separate announcement Sept. 4 that it is soliciting proposals for materials science research projects that CASIS will support through grant funding and by facilitating service provider partnerships and coordinating flights to and from the ISS. CASIS’s first research solicitation, a call for protein crystallization proposals, closed in August.