A Port of Opportunity: NASA Seeks Ideas to Increase Space Station Commercial Use


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The International Space Station is a resource unlike any other. Already designated a U.S. National Laboratory with more than 300 active research experiments on board, NASA is seeking creative input from industry for new uses of the space station’s one-of-a-kind capabilities.

A request for information (RFI) released this month seeks to understand which unique ISS capabilities can be used to boost commercial activity and foster a self-sustaining marketplace in low-Earth orbit (LEO). The agency also is looking for industry recommendations on potential contract or agreement structures to make it simpler to enable use of these capabilities.

“The space station was designed with what we thought was a full set of utilization capabilities. However, we are finding that industry is more innovative than we’d imagined and has ideas to use station in ways we never envisioned for research or commercial activities,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “We’re asking industry to help us understand how best to offer these unique capabilities, such as unused attachment ports or non-standard attachment sites, to commercial users. I’m looking forward to seeing how the private sector responds.”

This is a request for information only and does not guarantee a future request for proposals; however, NASA will use the results of the RFI to guide strategic planning to meet the agency’s objective for developing a robust, self-sustaining marketplace in LEO.

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