Press Release

NASA, Entrepreneurs to Develop Biotechnology Plan for Space Station

By SpaceRef Editor
June 22, 2005
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NASA, Entrepreneurs to Develop Biotechnology Plan for Space Station

NASA scientists and space service providers are meeting on June 21 and June 22 to develop a new entrepreneurial paradigm for the International Space Station (ISS) focusing on biotechnology applications.

The workshop is being held at the Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, Calif. Seminar participants will help evaluate the business case and feasibility for commercial endeavors on the ISS and report their findings and conclusions in open session. A formal report will be presented to the NASA Administrator by mid-July 2005.

“NASA will reach out to the private sector and look for ways to collaborate,” said NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. “I hope this workshop is successful.”

“Until recently, the business case for commercial endeavors on the International Space Station was not compelling,” said G. Scott Hubbard, director of NASA Ames Research Center. “But recent information shows that the space environment and the International Space Station may offer an important, and as yet undeveloped, new intellectual property arena for biotech. Emerging launch industries, advances in biotech, improvements in automation, and innovative concepts for returning samples from space offer new opportunities to solve the throughput problem that has been the major impediment to space biotech development,” he added.

“I’m intrigued by the commercial applications that could potentially be developed on board the International Space Station,” said Alan Marty, executive-in-residence at the venture capital arm of JP Morgan Partners, a private equity affiliate of J.P. Morgan Chase + Co., and one of the workshop participants. “I’m looking forward to hearing the case discussed at the workshop by those who have conducted biotech-related research in space and have launch and other space services to offer paying customers. It will be interesting to see whether the space community can develop a customer-centric space station with the type of services that will attract paying customers. Like others in the venture capitalist community, I am skeptical, interested and open to being convinced.”

“There is compelling evidence that the unique environment of spaceflight provides important insight into a variety of fundamental human health issues with tremendous potential for the commercial development of novel enabling technologies to enhance human health here on Earth,” said Dr. Cheryl Nickerson, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University’s Health Sciences Center. “I am excited with the potential of the ISS platform to contribute to these important health-related issues.”

The history of space biosciences contains numerous examples of medically important and commercially lucrative products that have resulted from space research and development, which now generate more than $1 billion annually.

“This workshop is intended to bring together all of the parties that can inform a decision and direction on the future use of the International Space Station for biotech,” said Lynn Harper, scientific lead for integrative studies at NASA Ames Research Center’s Astrobiology and Space Research Directorate. “Speakers will present the case for biotech, concepts on how to solve the throughput problem, address the credibility gaps and specify conditions that must be met in order to interest venture capitalists and the biotech industries in International Space Station biotech research and development.”

For information about the New Entrepreneurial Paradigm for the International Space Station workshop, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.