Letter From NASA to CASIS 31 March 2016

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2016

Orignal letter - PDF 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
2101 NASA Parkway
Houston, Texas 77058-3696

March 31,2016

Mr. Gregory H. Johnson
President and Executive Director
Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
6905 N. Wickham Road, Suite 500
Melbourne, FL 32940

Dear Mr. Johnson:

We have reviewed the fiscal year 2015 annual report from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). It is encouraging to see the strong emphasis on "stimulating demand for a sustained commercial economy in low-Earth orbit." This is of critical importance to the fulfillment of one of NASA's strategic goals, and CASIS is playing the leading role. We would also like to see CASIS continue their focus on enabling the growing number of commercial service providers that are offering research capabilities on the International Space Station (ISS) and are bringing in new users through their individual business development efforts.

Subscription of on-orbit crew time for ISS National Lab customers continues to grow; now the challenge is to ensure that all investigations sponsored are of the highest quality, and have the potential for directly affecting life on Earth, either through the applications developed from the research or through the creation of jobs and other financial benefits. Given that, there appears to be an imbalance with regard to the number of education and academic payloads in the CASIS portfolio (38% and 24% respectively, of the total pipeline FY 11-15). In this same vein, we would strongly encourage you to continue developing the commercial participation in ISS research (to date it accounts for only 35% of the total research pipeline), especially research closer to the application end of the spectrum, as it is much more likely to demonstrate results in the near term.

We applaud the redoubled efforts last year to ensure the substantial growth and reach of the annual ISS Research and Development Conference. The almost 100% increase in attendance is remarkable, and CASIS was a strong reason behind that growth. We encourage you to continue these efforts as we work mutually to ensure this signature event continues to be an important resource to the ISS user community. Similarly, the use of existing competition platforms (MassChallenge, Galactic Grant, Rice Business Plan) to reach non-traditional communities demonstrates an innovative approach to broadening the user base of the ISS.

"We would advise caution in the lending of the ISS National Lab brand (via your "Space is in it" certification) too freely; care must be taken to that research performed on the ISS has actually influenced product development in advance of awarding the certification. Failure to do so weakens the brand and may lend an air of being nonserious in our mutual quest to fully utilize the ISS as a national lab.

Finally, we encourage you to continue increasing the available funds for seed money grants to new users, while ensuring frugality in controlling administrative costs.

Congratulations to you and your team as you now have four complete years of operating the ISS National Lab. Should you have say questions or wish to discuss our comments further, please do not hesitate to give me a call.


Sam Scimemi

Director, International Space Station
NASA Headquarters

OA/M. Gard
OA/D. W. Hartman
OA/J. R. Montalbano
OA/K. A. Shireman
OA/K. O, Todd
OB/D. J. Weigel
OC/R. L. Prouty
OD/W. R. Jones
OE/W. J. Lyies
OG/C. A. Hatfield
OH/W.C. Cleek
OK/M. A. Baker
OW/J. J. Arend
ON/V. C. Feng
OX/G. Donh
OZ/M. A. Edeen
OZ/M. E. Read
OZ/M. R. Surbei
KSC/UB/J. B. Burnett

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