IEEE Life Sciences Newsletter

Leveraging Life Sciences Research On the International Space Station

by Patrick O'Neill

During the construction phase of the International Space Station (ISS), the facility was billed as the ultimate learning platform—capable of enabling technologies and discoveries not possible through ground-based experimentation. Roughly four years ago, the space station was officially completed, finally allowing researchers access to this unique environment for experimentation. At that time, the U.S. Congress recognized the need to "open the doors" of the ISS to researchers that otherwise might never have assumed microgravity research offered an opportunity to enhance their R&D goals, and declared the U.S. portion of the station a National Laboratory. And because flight and crew time are assumed, researchers are provided with access to microgravity at a fraction of the cost. With such incentives, it is no coincidence that a litany of major commercial companies and innovative startups are utilizing the station for experimentation to enhance technologies that have the capacity to change the way we view the world.

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