The International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory is soliciting flight projects for in-space production applications focused on advanced materials and manufacturing.
NASA astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Victor Glover performs a sample exchange in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) as part of the Fibre Optic Production (FOP) experiment. FOP produces fibre optic cable in microgravity from a blend of elements called ZBLAN. Previous research suggests optical fibres produced in microgravity should exhibit superior qualities to those produced on Earth.
Courtesy ISS National Laboratory / Copyright NASA All rights reserved
This research announcement seeks concepts to utilise the space-based environment of the orbiting laboratory to further applications that can bring value to humanity and enable business models in space.
In-space production applications is a strategic focus area for the ISS National Lab. For this research announcement, flight investigations should demonstrate space-based manufacturing and production activities that enable new business growth and capital investment, represent scalable and sustainable market opportunities and produce recurring value with the potential to generate demand for and revenue from access to space.
The objective is to use the unique ISS environment to develop, test, or mature products and processes that have a demonstrated potential to produce near-term, positive economic impact. Flight projects selected via this solicitation may be awarded funding to support project development and mission integration and operations for research that will be implemented on the ISS.
One example of a project awarded through an ISS National Lab research announcement in the area of in-space production applications is LambdaVisionLambdaVision. The biotech company has launched multiple projects to the space station over the years to improve the manufacturing process for a protein-based artificial retina. Such an implant could restore vision for patients with degenerative eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. The implant consists of multiple thin layers of protein and manufacturing in microgravity could improve the uniformity of the layers.
This research announcement will follow a two-step proposal submission process. Before being invited to submit a full proposal, all interested investigators must submit a Step 1: Concept Summary for review. The ISS National Lab will host a webinar on 23rd February 2023, at 2 pm EDT to discuss ISS facilities and capabilities associated with this research announcement. A recording of the webinar will be made available to the research community through the research announcement webpage.
Step 1: Concept Summaries must be submitted by end of day on 5th April 2023. Step 2: Full Proposals (from those invited to submit) will be due by end of day 19th June 2023.
To learn more about this opportunity, including how to submit a Step 1: Concept Summary, please visit the research announcement webpage. To learn more about the ISS National Lab and the science that it sponsors, please visit www.ISSNationalLab.org
The ISS National Lab is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS) through a Cooperative Agreement with NASA. Last year, NASA extended its Cooperative Agreement with CASIS to manage the ISS National Lab through 2027.