Daily Management Review

Enterprise to the Space Station Sought to be Brought by NASA


08/22/2016




Enterprise to the Space Station Sought to be Brought by NASA
The International Space Station might be ready for business after 15 years of serving as a pure research lab.
 
Taking another, tentative step in U.S. efforts to create a marketplace in space, NASA is soliciting ideas from private enterprise on ways to use the orbiting laboratory for commercial purposes.

NASA says: “it’s become clear that companies don’t think they can go straight to a commercial space station without continuing to take advantage of the ISS to test the waters and see what really will sell or where there may be issues.” And therefore as a way to engender “out of the box concepts” for the space station, the US space agency posed the request.
 
“Commercial companies continue to approach NASA to use the ISS in ways we never imagined,” the agency said in a blog post accompanying its request for information (RFI). The solicitation is designed “to determine private market interest in using unique ISS capabilities that have limited availability.”
 
For future commercial endeavors 250 miles above the planet, ideas on operating models, contract structures, and other sustainable business plans were also requested by NASA. “It’s an opportunity to gather new ideas from people/industry for future opportunities on the space station,” NASA spokeswoman Tabatha Thompson said.
 
It just wants to hear ideas, NASA stressed in its RFI. It doesn’t have plans to release proposals for public perusal or a budget to help spur any proposed projects. Sam Scimemi, division director for the ISS program, said that 11 submissions “from a broad range of respondents including individuals, small companies and large companies” was received by NASA. Orbital ATK Inc. confirmed that it had submitted information, which it declined to reveal. Orbital ATK Inc. has a NASA contract to ferry supplies to the ISS.
 
Frank Culbertson Jr., president of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group and a former NASA astronaut said that how government-funded technologies are migrating to the private sector is reflected by space station. He had spent four months aboard the ISS in 2001.

“The station is now much more affordable as a research and development platform for commercial companies. As an astronaut who lived aboard the ISS myself, I am particularly interested in human research beyond low earth orbit and the use of the space station as a testbed for technology demonstrations that will eventually support NASA’s increasingly ambitious missions to deep space,” Culbertson said in a statement.
 
There were no comments from Boeing Co. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Both the companies work closely with the space agency. With a five-year, $1.2 billion deal through September 2020, Boeing is the prime contractor on the ISS. Determination of whether the outpost’s functional life could be extended through December 2028 and assessing the station’s “primary structural hardware” are the responsibilities of Boeing as part of that contract. Since NASA agreed in 2014 to keep the lab open for an additional decade, the ISS will operate until at least 2024. The space station was originally scheduled to shut down in 2020. 
 
From muscle and vision degradation to radiation exposure, ways to  minimize the harmful effects of space on the human body as a way to make longer missions feasible is one research area of deep interest to NASA.
 
That kind of data would be of interest for commercial space tourism companies. The stars as the ultimate vacation venue are being looked upon by companies such as Blue Origin LLC and Virgin Galactic Ltd. And voyages longer than brief excursions into space could be contemplated in time by such ventures. President Rob Meyerson of Blue Origin told Space.com recently that he had visions of a time when millions of people live off-earth. Blue Origin was launched by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos.
 
“We think if you want to get there, you need to be pushing the barriers of how to conduct really useful science ... of trying things out in microgravity,” Bezos said.

(Source:www.bloomberg.com) 






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