NASA solicits ideas for International Space Station research

January 29, 2013

NASA wants to know how you can improve the International Space Station as a technology test bed.

NASA's National Laboratory and offices are asking for proposals on how the space station may be used to develop advanced or improved exploration technologies. NASA also is seeking proposals about how new approaches, technologies and capabilities could improve the unique laboratory environment of the orbiting outpost.

The NASA Research Announcement, "Soliciting Proposals for Exploration Technology Demonstration and National Lab Utilization Enhancements," may be viewed at:

The annoucement will provide successful proposers access to the space station's , crew support and robotic servicing. It closes Sept. 30.

"The space station is a world-class facility and critical to NASA's plan to extend humanity's presence beyond ," said Andrew Clem of the Technology Demonstration Office in the International Space Station Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This is an opportunity for researchers, inventors and designers to demonstrate a technology needed for future human spaceflights or to improve an existing space station capability."

NASA will review submissions throughout the year as they are received. The agency will cover launch and integration costs for selected proposals. Successful submissions also may be eligible for limited additional funding.

Proposed technologies should help advance exploration and research capabilities aboard the space station. Concepts must fit within existing NASA standards for mass and volume to meet requirements for current launch vehicles. Suggested areas include in-space propulsion; space power and energy storage; components of highly reliable, closed-loop, human health, life support and habitation systems; thermal systems; robotics, telerobotics, and autonomous systems; and human exploration destination systems.

Proposals for new exploration technologies could include strategies to reduce mass, maintenance and power requirements, while also increasing efficiency, reliability and safety. The idea could be a new technology or a new, improved use of existing space hardware. Proposals also may have the potential to yield benefits for humanity, such as testing a new material or stimulating economic growth.

Alternately, proposers could address improvements to the existing capabilities of the U.S. National Laboratory, such as new uses for existing experiment tools and infrastructure aboard the orbiting outpost, or potential efficiencies like advances in data communications. Other possibilities include ground equipment for space studies, in-orbit analytical tools, three-dimensional cell and tissue culture hardware, or improvements or new uses for existing station research resources.

The enhancements sought in this announcement will further efforts by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to promote research aboard the station's U.S. National Laboratory.

For assistance with responding to the announcement, visit the Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Research Announcement or Cooperative Agreements Notice at:

Explore further: NASA offers online space station guide

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1 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2013

We spent billions of dollars, 2 decades, and lost 14 lives building this contraption, um, now what do we to with it?
not rated yet Jan 30, 2013
40 years ago the ISS was claimed to be an essential part of America's scientific elitism, and scientific research.

It was going to cure diseases and start a new era in orbital manufacturing.

I guess the initial proclamations were just American Idiocy.
1 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2013
dan42day and VendicarE, you are ignorant. You demonstrate no clue as to how science is actually planned and done. Part of a project like this solicits science from the scientific community. Would you rather have governments program the entire agenda?

Additionally, you exhibit singular lack of vision. Do you really expect humankind to do anything in space without taking the basic step of at least keep a small orbital outpost running? Really?? Really!!!?? Go back to your cave.

VendicarE, I've also noticed your other trolling. Fortunately we can rest assured that natural selection will eventually scrub your genes from the human gene pool.
not rated yet Jan 30, 2013
perhaps a 3d printer, not quite sure of a specific use but im sure it'd be useful , and i wonder the cost to make a rotating module on a tether to test practical models of "artificial gravity" even if it was not large enough for a human but with inflatable modules coming that could be a possibility
not rated yet Jan 31, 2013
I would have much preferred a small outpost on the moon where we could do usefull experiments in utilizing indigenous materials and other skills that could be used on mars and the astroids. A Skylab/Mir orbital outpost could provide the same benefits as the ISS at a fraction of the cost. The real purpose of the ISS was to provide justification for the space shuttle, another huge waste of money that has kept us trapped in low earth orbit for 40 years.

I was 14 when Armstrong stepped onto the moon, my dreams of seeing man walk on mars in my life time is fading fast.
not rated yet Jan 31, 2013
Dolson is right. After spending 40 years designing, building, and putting the thing in orbit, they should now decide what they are going to use it for.

"Part of a project like this solicits science from the scientific community." - Dolson

We use this method all the time. Buildings are for example always built to random specifications and then after construction the decision is made as to weather they are a shopping mall, a hospital, a school, home, or an outhouse.

When it comes to the ISS, it appears that a very sophisticated outhouse has been produced.
not rated yet Jan 31, 2013
Now America asks the question... What science can be done on this outhouse?

not rated yet Jan 31, 2013
Sadly, America didn't find any Martian Communists to wage war on.

"I was 14 when Armstrong stepped onto the moon, my dreams of seeing man walk on mars in my life time is fading fast." - Dan42
not rated yet Jan 31, 2013

We spent billions of dollars, 2 decades, and lost 14 lives building this contraption, um, now what do we to with it?

That's not really the point. We are doing lots of work there already.

The point here is that some parts of the ISS are very old by technology standards. There are a LOT of systems on the ISS which can be improved with contemporary designs, as well as things we would have liked to do 10 years ago, but didn't for one reason or another.

There's still a TON of things we need to learn how to do in microgravity. Many chemical processes do not work the same as they do in gravity; fire, boiling, condensation, etc. If we ever hope to do any sort of fabrication in space we're going to need to figure that stuff out. Welding is a good one that nobody has tried yet. Electro-plating is another. Distillation in zero-G would be useful if we're going to mine comets for fuel and air.
not rated yet Jan 31, 2013
I would have much preferred a small outpost on the moon where we could do usefull experiments in utilizing indigenous materials

I think there's a good argument for a low Earth orbit station like ISS AND a lunar station. There's a ton of work we still need to in microgravity, as I suggested in my previous post. You can't do those experiments on the moon because it has gravity. The moon is also very far away. It's much cheaper to make supply runs to LEO. LEO is the cheapest place to learn how to design equipment for working in space. Even our space suits need improvements.

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