Technology Community- May/June 2001 edition

Commercial Opportunities Aboard the International Space Station

With the International Space Station (ISS) now in orbit, new frontiers in human space exploration, technology and business have opened. The ISS is an unparalleled, international, scientific and technological cooperative venture that will usher in a new era of human space flight, with the promise of economic benefits to people on Earth.

The ISS will provide more room for research, with greater resources and flexibility than any spacecraft ever built. The ISS provides unprecedented, long-term access to the microgravity and ultra-vacuum environment of space, a flexible vantage point for observational research and a testbed for new technologies.

The ISS Commercial Opportunity, is about stimulating business investment in the development of new markets and industries in low Earth orbit. The ISS has three broad categories of commercial opportunity: users, operations and new capability development. Within each area, NASA is

using its position as both a customer and a service provider to stimulate new commercial space businesses. As the user base broadens, it is expected that NASA will become just one of the customers for commercial operations and new capabilities. To ensure that there will be adequate opportunities available for commercial uses, NASA is allotting approximately 30 percent of the U.S. share of the ISSís research capacity for economic development.

NASA provides resources geared toward the unique capabilities and vantage point of the Space Station. The ISS will be an orbiting laboratory that will provide an unprecedented facility for long-term scientific research, technology development and the achievement of commercial goals in space. To this end, there are a number of laboratory facilities available. These accommodations and services range from laboratory racks in pressurized modules with full utility and crew services, to externally mounted attached payload sites that are exposed to the near vacuum of space. Commercial organizations are encouraged to participate through NASA- industry partnership in those research areas for which they anticipate future business potential.

Another potential commercial development of the ISS involves private industry providing the services necessary to maintain and continually improve ISS capabilities. Operating a space-based laboratory is different and far more complex than similar activities on Earth, but these are not insurmountable barriers for major U.S. service providers to over-come if they are to take their Earth-based services to space. The services needed for a research platform in low-Earth orbit are, in many cases, the same as are required anywhere on Earth or needed by the many satellites orbiting Earth. In the case of the Space Shuttle and the ISS-Mir programs, logistics support for both operations and the research community are already commercially provided. The growing base of users will shape the future of operational needs of the ISS. Commercial sources may provide and evolve these operational capabilities. NASA may become one of a number of paying customers for these augmented services.

The commercial sector can provide capital improvements to the ISS based on the demand of both public and private customers. Such development can be either enhancements to existing capabilities- for example, increasing the available power to ISS users with commercially supplied power- or it can be a new capability, such as a commercially provided module. Because of the large investment cost, this area represents the highest commitment of private funds. As with operations, new capability development will be market-driven by the profitability of the ISS uses and the increased demand. NASA may benefit from these new and improved capabilities without bearing the burden of the total operational cost.

NASA has supported scientific and commercial research in the life and microgravity sciences for approximately 15 years. However, the cumulative research time on board the 100 Space Shuttle missions has been only about six months. With the advent of the ISS, researchers will have access to a space laboratory for periods of years, with greater resources than any previous orbiting facility. The ISS will provide greater research flexibility, regular crew interaction with experiments and time for iterative or multigenerational research. [Source]

Headlines from the May/June edition of Technology Community 


Page 2 State Science and Engineering Profiles "Cutting" Technology for the Photonics Industry

Page 3 Latest on Information Technology Employment

Page 4 NREL Makes Key Appointments

Page 5 OUT IN FRONT - Space Foundation Honors Telescope Team             

Page 6 ABOUT TOWN - The Fitzsimons Center

Page 7 CUBAC and RVC Columns

Page 8 CPIA and T2S Columns

Page 9 Colorado Environmental Business Alliance

Page 10 R&D Funding- $6 Million in Awards for Solar Cell Research

Page 11 TIPS & TREASURES - New Degree on CCCOline



Any technology organization or company is invited to submit brief articles via fax or e-mail to:
CU Business Advancement Center,
5353 Manhattan Cir., Suite 202, Boulder, CO 80303.
Phone (303) 554-9493 ext. 13 Fax (303) 554-9605
Karen Eye

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