World Space Week – Day 6: ISS National Lab and Space Tango

Over the last few days we have been able to share just a few of our International partners and NGOs. None of this could be possible if we could not get our experiments to space! In addition to the launch vehicles (Cygnus, Dragon) required to get us there, today we’d like to express our gratitude to two institutions that without them, none of this would be a reality: The International Space Station National Laboratory, and our commercial service provider, Space Tango.

View of Earth from the International Space Station

For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously onboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration exploration into deep space and benefit life here on our planet.

In 2005, the ISS was designated as a U.S. National Laboratory by Congress, enabling space research and development access to a broad range of commercial, academic, and government users. The ISS National Laboratory would be responsible for managing all non-NASA research, and all investigations would require the capacity to utilize microgravity for Earth benefits.

In 2011, the Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a nonprofit, non-government organization, was selected as the manager of the ISS National Lab with a focus on enabling a new era of space research to improve life on Earth through a diverse range of research in life sciences, physical sciences, remote sensing, technology development, and education.

In 2018, was presented with the 2018 ISS Innovation Award in STEM Education at the ISS R&D Conference. The award was in recognition of the novel approach we’ve taken with ExoLab, an educational platform that allows students across the U.S. and internationally to engage in real ISS National Lab plant biology experiments.

Astronaut Shannon Walker preparing ExoLab to come home

Since our first mission in February of 2017, has flown 9 missions to the ISS. This would not have been possible without our commercial service provider, Space Tango. Our 10th mission is just a few weeks away scheduled to be part of the SpaceX-26 resupply mission.

Space Tango has helped engineer each of our missions to our specifications as we study plants in microgravity. From brain organoids, to artificial retinas, to the alfalfa and M. truncatula plants we’ll fly next month, Space Tango provides access to microgravity for R&D and manufacturing on the ISS National Lab through automated platforms that can support a variety of sciences.

Over the last two years I have had the honor to serve as the Education Chair for the ISS National Lab User Advisory Committee. Now serving as co-chair with the incomparable Stephen White, Chief Strategy Officer for The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Ohio, in 2023 I will remain on the committee as an active member.

The future is bright for and our students around the world. It could not be possible without the ISS National Lab and Space Tango!


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