Funding for ISS technology development announced

The International Space Station (ISS) is soliciting flight concepts for technology development including in-space edge computing and ISAM.

By ISS National Lab May 17, 2024
Courtesy: NASA

Manufacturing and research insights

  • The ISS National Lab solicits flight concepts for space technology development, aiming to accelerate advancements benefiting life on Earth.
  • Projects may focus on hardware prototypes, process improvements, advanced materials and translational medicine, offering up to $750,000 in funding.

The International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory is soliciting flight concepts for technology development that would utilize the space-based environment of the orbiting laboratory. This solicitation, “Technology Development and Applied Research Leveraging the ISS National Lab,” is open to a broad range of technology areas, including chemical and material synthesis in space, translational medicine, in-space edge computing, and ISAM (in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing). It also encompasses the application of space station remote sensing data to improve geospatial analytics for commercial use.

Space-based technology development and demonstration is a strategic priority for the ISS National Lab, as it provides an opportunity for accelerated technology maturation that may enable advancements to improve life on Earth and build commerce in low Earth orbit (LEO).

Through this research announcement, respondents may propose to use the unique environment of the orbiting platform to develop, test, or mature products and processes that have a demonstrated potential to produce near-term and positive direct or indirect economic impact. Flight concepts selected via this research announcement may be awarded funding to enable mission integration and operations support for projects that will be implemented on the space station.

UAE astronaut and Expedition 69 Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi observes a free-flying Astrobee robotic assistant onboard the International Space Station.

UAE astronaut and Expedition 69 Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi observes a free-flying Astrobee robotic assistant onboard the International Space Station. Courtesy: NASA

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 Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, manager of the ISS National Lab, will host a webinar on Wednesday, May 22, at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss space station facilities and capabilities associated with this research announcement.

  • Step 1: Concept Summaries must be submitted by the end of the day on July 12, 2024.

  • Step 2: Full Proposals from those invited to submit will be due by the end of the day October 2, 2024.

Multiple projects are expected to be awarded through this research announcement with up to $750,000 in total funding available.

Emphasis areas for this solicitation include but are not limited to:

  • Hardware prototype testing: Innovations addressing hardware product development gaps and emerging technology proliferation in the areas of electronics; semiconductors; nanotechnologies; robotics; sensors; and communications, remote sensing, computer, and satellite technology.

  • Process improvements: Use of the space station as a test bed to advance the development of facilities for high-throughput investigations or to demonstrate new methodologies for spaceflight research and development, or the use of space-based data to facilitate modeling of industrial systems.

  • Advanced materials: Current advanced materials research that addresses the development of next-generation production methods, testing of novel materials, and the exploitation of materials with unique properties.

  • Translational medicine: Validation of accelerated disease modeling, analyzing macromolecular structures for drug design, and demonstration of novel drug delivery and diagnostic services.

As an example, a project from the University of Southern California, awarded through a prior ISS National Lab Research Announcement focused on technology advancement, recently tested a system to autonomously dock and undock CubeSats on the space station. The CLINGERS system was designed to combine a mechanical docking system with rendezvous sensors to enable docking with both active and passive objects. Technologies such as this could make it easier to safely move objects in space, which is key to developing an in-orbit construction ecosystem.