KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR — APRIL 12, 2012) – 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 gave NanoRacks permission to expand its operations to the Japanese Kibo module’s exposed facility.
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.”
View an animated demonstration of NanoRacks in action at www.youtube.com/isscasis.