Status Report

2020 ISS Research and Development Conference Virtual Technical Sessions – Call for Abstracts

By SpaceRef Editor
May 25, 2020
Filed under , ,


9th Annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference

 Addition of Virtual Technical Sessions

Organized by the American Astronautical Society, the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, and NASA


Technical Q&A Sessions: September 22-September 24

Conference Overview ─ Revised

The 2020 International Research and Development Conference  (ISSRDC) is being reformatted into an online series across several dates. Now in its ninth year, the in-person conference was originally scheduled for August 3-6 in Seattle. The dates and registration details for the ISSRDC Online Series will be announced soon.

The conference online series will include general sessions as well as focused technical sessions.

Both the conference and abstract submission are open to domestic and international entrepreneurial, commercial, academic, and government agency attendees—including professionals, students, citizen scientists, and all interested parties. The working language for the conference is English.

This document is specific to the new Online Technical Sessions. Please check the conference web site ( often for the latest information on full conference planning.

Virtual Technical Session Overview

The Online Technical Sessions will be conducted in two parts and held across the dates of Tuesday, September 15 through Thursday, September 24.  

In Part 1, presentations will be available for on-demand viewing via a website starting on September 15. Part 2 commences a week later when presenters will participate in live question and answer (Q&A) sessions on scheduled days from September 22 to 24. If we receive a significant number of Eurasian presentations, we will address regional timing for these Q&A sessions. There will not be any poster sessions this year.

Part 1: Presentation Preparation. Authors will create their technical presentations in PowerPoint using the software’s recorded narration feature. Presentations are limited to 20 minutes.

The recorded presentations will be made available to all registrants for on-demand viewing via a website beginning September 15. This gives the audience great flexibility in viewing presentations at their convenience.

Providing a narrated presentation should not present significant problems. You can record the narration  within the PowerPoint file. To record and play back sound, your computer must be equipped with a sound card, microphone, and speakers. While you are recording, disable any other sound recording applications, such as Speech Recognition. We recommend you use an external microphone. Adding audio to a slide is not supported in PowerPoint for the web but is supported in the PC and MacOS versions. Microsoft has provided instructions for this.

Part 2: Live Q&A Sessions. Authors will participate in live Q&A sessions during the days of Tuesday, September 22 through Thursday, September 24. The presentations will not be played live for the Q&A but will still be available on-demand. Current planning is that each presenter will be given a specific time slot on one of those days to interact with the live audience. Presenters will be grouped with several others within a topic to encourage discussion across multiple presentations. Authors must attend their designated session and allow publication of the presentation and contact information or their presentation will be removed from proceedings.

Other than the above, abstract submission, selection and notification will be as in the past. Those instructions are found below. Abstracts already submitted  will be included in the selection process unless the primary author notifies us to withdraw.

Important Deadlines and Dates

Friday, June 26, 2020

(2400 hours U.S. Eastern Time)

Abstract submission deadline

There will not be an extension

Friday, July 24, 2020

Invitation notification to authors

Authors must accept invitation by the date identified in the notice


Monday, September 14, 2020


Deadline for load of final presentations into conference management system



2020 Conference Registration Rates

Invited Speaker and Presenters

No Charge


No Charge


Abstract submission is open to all nationalities. We encourage submissions from any past, present, or future ISS user, supporter, or operator with an entrepreneurial, commercial, academic, or government background. Submissions are especially encouraged from young professionals and students.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) ISS Research Technical Committee will evaluate abstracts based on their quality, relevance, innovation, substance merit, and future practical application, as well as for balance and variety in the sessions. Accepted abstracts will be selected for on-demand presentation and live audience Q&A. The Technical Committee reserves the right to place the presentation in the most appropriate topical category and Q&A session.

See the abstract topics below. Please note, abstract topics are not necessarily the session topics/titles. Sessions will be structured around the accepted abstracts. Scientific papers are not required.


All verified, full-time students (middle school, high school, or college) selected for a presentation will be automatically entered into the American Astronautical Society student contest. Student presentations will be evaluated for best at the middle school, secondary school, undergraduate, and Ph. D. student levels. Winning students will have the option of receiving complimentary student registration for one of the 2021/2022 AAS Symposia (Von Braun, Goddard, John Glenn Symposia).


With the large number of expected submissions, authors/presenters are encouraged to submit abstracts early; the deadline is Friday, June 26, 2020. In 2018 and 2019, there were twice as many submissions as available spaces. There will not be a deadline extension.

Authors/presenters may access the web-based abstract submission system directly at or using the link found on the conference website at

Using the online submission process, the primary author is expected to provide the following:

  • Presentation title and appropriate category/topic from this call for abstracts
  • Name, affiliation, postal address, telephone number, and email address of the corresponding author
  • Name, affiliation, postal address, telephone number, and email address of the presenter
  • Other descriptive and demographic data
  • A short abstract of no more than 50 words
  • An expanded abstract in Portable Document File (PDF) format of no more than 2 pages that includes the title and authors


Authors should write the abstract to allow evaluation against the acceptance criteria of quality, relevance, innovation, substance merit, and future practical application.


Authors accepted for presentations will receive an invitation to present via email. Authors will have five days to accept or decline the invitation via email. If you do not respond to the invitation, you will be noted as declining participation. Detailed presentation instructions will be sent by email following acceptance. 

Electronic copies of presentations for the proceedings and sessions must be submitted by Monday, September 14, 2020, through the online submission process. Failure to do so will invoke the “No Presentation/No Podium” rule, and the item will be stricken from the schedule. “Walk on” charts are not supported.


By submission of an abstract or presentation, the author agrees to the inclusion of such in the program and/or conference proceedings. Copies of the abstracts, bios, contact information and presentations may be made available to all conference registrants in hard copy or electronically.

“Pre-decisional,” “Pre-publication,” or “Proprietary” Information in Presentations: “Pre-decisional,” “pre-publication,” or “proprietary” information should not be included in abstracts or submitted presentations. Addendum charts containing such material will not be possible.

All authors are required to register for the conference in the same fashion as all other attendees.

Technology Transfer Notice: This is an international conference. If the author’s organization, agency, or government requires export approval of their material for this conference, the author must follow that process on a schedule that allows the author to meet the conference deadlines. Completing export approval is the responsibility of the author, not of the conference organizers.


Authors may contact for additional information, submission difficulties, or abstract inquiries.

For the latest news and information on ISSRDC 2020, visit

Please send conference attendance inquiries to


Presentation Topics

The following presentation topics are not intended as an exhaustive list of possible subjects nor is it to be limiting in what may be pursued. The list is meant as a set of suggestions to facilitate thought and creativity in bringing presentations to the technical sessions.


Biology and Medicine

Microgravity’s effects on physical and biological phenomena are far-ranging and are poised to benefit pharmaceutical research, from target identification to drug discovery, testing, and delivery. Moreover, molecular, and physiological changes in space provide accelerated models of human disease and aging on Earth. Space-based discoveries in biology and medicine not only benefit humans on Earth but also help keep astronauts healthy on long-duration space journeys.

Responsive abstracts should describe the use of the ISS to improve pharmaceuticals or drug delivery systems and to study biology in the context of animal/cell modeling of disease or mechanistic studies in cell culture.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, cell function; microbial function and other microbiological processes; pharmaceutical development and delivery/diagnostics systems including antibiotic effectiveness, pharmacokinetics/dynamics, macromolecular crystal growth, microfluidic devices, etc.; physiologic impacts of microgravity, such as effects on protein synthesis, the musculoskeletal system, immune response, etc.—including animal modeling, and cancer research.


Commercial and Nongovernment Use

The ISS platform is available today as a test bed and a pathfinder for industry to advance the commercialization of low Earth orbit. NASA, the ISS National Lab, and international partners are encouraging and facilitating commercialization opportunities as agencies continue to develop strategic policy on stimulation of a sustainable commercialized low Earth orbit marketplace. The ISS is already supporting commercial ventures, including small satellite deployment, vaccine development, Earth monitoring, and a range of other focused research projects.

Responsive abstracts will address efforts to utilize the ISS for commercial endeavors and may address business or hardware items.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, the economic opportunity of the ISS/low Earth orbit, funding of privatized research, public/private partnerships, business models involving the ISS, barriers to commercial use of the ISS, industry strategic outlook and cooperation, promising near-term market opportunities in low Earth orbit, and any early lessons learned. Also included is the use of existing, new, or proposed low Earth orbit systems or hardware such as airlocks, docking adapters, observation platforms, and research or manufacturing facilities and capabilities.


Earth and Space Science Using Remote Sensing 

The location of the ISS in low Earth orbit affords a unique vantage point for imaging of Earth and space. Many legacy Earth observation satellites face obsolescence as the private sector begins investing in global observing systems. The ISS offers a stable Earth observation platform for use in direct commercial and public-use application. The ISS can also be used as a tended development platform for new sensors and systems.

Responsive abstracts should address the challenges and various solutions for publicly and privately funded use of the ISS for remote sensing or technology advancement to improve Earth science and remote sensing.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to,  astrophysics, heliophysics, disaster response, advances in active and passive remote sensing systems (multispectral, hyperspectral, lidar, microwave, etc.), development of optical sensor suites, planetary science investigations, stratospheric aerosol and gas monitoring, right-of-way inspections, urban planning, humanitarian response, energy sustainability, forestry, agriculture, and other resource management remote sensing applications.



Commercial companies are searching for economical ways to operate businesses in low Earth orbit. Those on the cusp of entering these uncharted areas must learn from those who currently obtain or manage financing for programs, projects, and investigations to new and existing ISS users. Financing, whether internal or external, is a concern of large businesses, small businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers, academia, and financers. We are looking for inputs from those needing financing, those who have developed financing, and those who provide financing.

Responsive abstracts will describe the challenges of developing and implementing a financing plan for establishing businesses in space, ways to attract tourists and customers, and how to manage these challenges.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, how to go about looking for financing, attracting financing, soliciting financing, financing models, financing rounds and tranches, managing intake of funds, commitments required, effects upon the company, etc.


Human Health in Space 

As we look to establish a robust economy in low Earth orbit and further human space exploration, it is imperative to mitigate the risks that long-duration spaceflight poses for humans. The ISS provides the operations base to understand the effects of spaceflight on the human body and human performance. The ISS is an ideal platform for research that will clear the path for commerce and exploration.

Responsive abstracts will describe studies on the ISS that meet the above objectives.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, biomedical research in space, health risks due to radiation and weightlessness (e.g., musculoskeletal effects and sensorimotor adaptation), cardiovascular alterations, intracranial pressure and visual impairment, medical monitoring and investigation capabilities, immune function, physiology, cognition, psychological adaptation, human factors, and onboard countermeasures and plans (including exercise and pharmacology, astronaut participation, and perception, etc.).


Physical Sciences and Materials Development

The lack of convection and sedimentation in microgravity allows for more uniform crystallization and synthesis of some materials (e.g., metals, semiconductors, biomaterials, ceramics, and composites), benefitting studies of material properties and performance, including complex fluids, in various phases. Moreover, the external environment of space is an ideal test bed for materials degradation, providing exposure to extreme conditions (e.g., vacuum, atomic oxygen, UV radiation, and space debris). The limitation of natural convection in microgravity also provides a unique opportunity for combustion studies, experiments in fluid dynamics, and energy transport studies involving heat and mass transfer.

Responsive abstracts should describe the evaluation of physical sciences phenomena or the development of new/improved materials that could be used to sustain industry in space and extended space exploration flights using the above-referenced benefits of the ISS.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, engineered materials, components, and structures; fluid behavior (including complex fluids), transport processes and/or advanced structures and materials; energy capture, generation, storage, efficiency, and sustainability; and materials development/in-orbit production processes.


Plant Science 

Analyzing the broad range of spaceflight-specific adaptive processes in plants may advance fundamental understanding of plant biology, improve space agriculture capabilities, and inform terrestrial agricultural and commercial applications involving plant growth, behavior, and interactions with other organisms.

Responsive abstracts should seek to leverage the ISS for one or more of the above-referenced purposes.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, studies of gene expression and plant morphology, biofuel production and protein production related to industrial processes, and symbiotic interactions. They may apply to Earth-based activity, industry in low Earth orbit, or human spaceflight exploration.


STEM Education 

A new generation of scientists and explorers need a strong foundation in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to compete in the global economy and to support the goals of Artemis and beyond. The ISS is a proven focal point and platform for promoting and advancing education initiatives. The engineering and scientific capabilities of the ISS and the science and technology advances made onboard the orbiting laboratory provide an opportunity to excite students to pursue careers in STEM fields. Moreover, the broad spectrum of inspiring topics available for educational use allows initiatives to reach a wide student population and engage groups not commonly targeted by STEM education programs.

Responsive abstracts should discuss education programs that capitalize on the ISS research platform.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, educational outreach, ISS utilization for student experiments and activities, innovative educational outreach programs regarding the ISS, ground-based simulations and demonstrations, and curriculum utilizing or focusing on the ISS.


Technology Development and Demonstration

The ISS is a test bed for technology development and demonstration that will enable commerce in low Earth orbit, improve human spaceflight capabilities, and benefit the quality of life on Earth.

Responsive abstracts should describe use of the ISS as a test bed to demonstrate operational techniques and capabilities for space exploration or to develop and demonstrate technologies and advanced systems that benefit either space-based initiatives or terrestrial commercial applications.

Specific examples include, but are not limited to, autonomy, communications needs and solutions, energy storage and power management and production, external and internal accommodations, hardware capabilities and limitations, inflatable structures, in-space manufacturing (additive technologies, demonstrations, and unique processes), ISS utilization for satellite launches and CubeSat deployments, onboard requirements to sustain life (including closed-loop life support, radiation shielding and monitoring, and environmental control and life support systems), advanced communication and navigation strategies, robotics, and advanced exploration capabilities.


Innovative Solutions

This topic area addresses innovative solutions appropriate for commercialization. Abstracts in this category should clearly demonstrate a strong potential to address a critical need within ISS in-orbit activity or a project that should be developed on the ISS to address Earth-based problems. Understanding that innovation can be unpredictable, topics that fall in this subject area could include any of the other nine abstract areas.

Responsive abstracts will describe the innovative concept, its level of development, and the commercialization potential as seen by the author. Authors do not need have commercialization funding to submit but must identify their funding requirements. Authors do not need customers at this point but must describe the innovative concept such that an unrecognizing customer will realize their need for this “product” or service.

It is fully acceptable for submissions to be solutions in search of a problem. That said, we are not looking for bare ideas and expect that adequate development has already been done to demonstrate the concept and paths to implementation.

Depending upon the number and level of accepted responses, those selected may be presented in a forum separate from the usual Technical Sessions. This may be through an Expo format, lightning presentations, a dedicated plenary round, or some other mechanism.


SpaceRef staff editor.