The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization managing the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, today announced a deal with NanoRacks, LLC, to reserve space on the first commercial platform available for researchers outside the ISS in the extreme environments of space. In June, CASIS will issue a formal solicitation to the research community and private enterprise for their proposals to use this one-of-a-kind platform for anything from earth observation to materials, and biological sciences.
The deal, worth $1.5 million, enables NanoRacks, the provider of sophisticated shoe-box sized space research hardware, to begin construction on the external platform and be ready for flight as early 2013 - almost a year ahead of the original schedule. NanoRacks already operates unique platforms inside the U.S. National Lab with more than 60 payloads under contract. NASA recently awarded NanoRacks a Space Act Agreement, allotting them a place on the exterior of the Japanese Kibo module for their platform.
By enabling NanoRacks to extend their plug and play "NanoLabs" outside the Station, CASIS is helping to bring a whole new generation of researchers to the ISS. The deal also fulfills part of the CASIS mission to enhance the capabilities of the ISS National Lab. By calling for the first of two research proposals in June via www.iss-casis.org, CASIS will have projects ready to fly with the platform, maximizing use of America's premier space research facility in a timely manner.
The NanoLabs platform provides a research space up to 8"x8"x8". Through the CASIS investment, up to four companies will have an opportunity to fly their research onboard a NanoLab at minimal or no cost, depending on the project. Payloads will be delivered to the ISS by available vehicles launching from the U.S and Russia.
"This strategic investment gives leading-edge research entities - via CASIS - a unique ability to have direct access to an ISS external research platform by as early as the end of 2013," said CASIS Interim Executive Director Jim Royston. "We are pleased to have the opportunity to sponsor research through NanoRacks' unique NanoLabs platform outside the ISS National Lab in the near term."
"CASIS' investment ensures that U.S. researchers will have access to the ISS External Platform far sooner than otherwise expected," noted NanoRacks Managing Director Jeffrey Manber. "This program will enable faster innovation and spiral development for payloads - an opportunity that has not previously been made available to the commercial marketplace."
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. The CASIS goal is to bring the magic of space down to earth. For more information, visit www.iss-casis.org.
About NanoRacks LLC:
NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide quality hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station. The company operates the first commercial laboratory in low-earth orbit. Today, we have onboard or manifested three research platforms, which can house plug and play NanoLabs using the CubeSat form factor. We also offer a range of commercial research hardware allowing on-orbit analysis. The current signed customer pipeline of over 60 payloads, including domestic and international educational institutions, research organizations and government organizations, has propelled NanoRacks into a leadership position in customer utilization in low-earth orbit and beyond.
About the ISS National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation's newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low earth orbit and varied environments of space. The ISS National Laboratory Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center currently facilitates research initiatives on board the station's National Lab, but management of America's only in-orbit laboratory is transitioning to CASIS.