Date: May 12, 2015
by Vicki L. Nisbett
A unique and successful International Space Station (ISS) Research Workshop for the New Mexico space ecosystem was held in Las Cruces at the Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces, March 30, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and hosted by the Arrowhead Technology Incubator. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) presented at the workshop, which was funded by NASA EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), that ignited potential research to go to station.
Patricia Hynes, director of the New Mexico Space Grant and NASA EPSCoR, and Wayne Savage, executive director of Arrowhead Park, welcomed all that attended.
Forty-eight registered guests and presenters attended informational and discussion sessions. Throughout the series of these sessions, CASIS staff members described how researchers, entrepreneurs, educators and students can access the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. Participants heard about important topics, such as research capability and CASIS assets for researchers; microgravity sensitive research; what lab equipment is available to researchers; prepping experiments for ISS; the cost to go to station; patent protections; and intellectual property information.
Dr. Hynes structured this workshop’s distinctive format.
“This workshop was very successful,” said Hynes. “We have three participants who are ready to go to station, and also a local company founder is very interested as well.”
This one-day workshop’s attendees, whose interests included engagement in microgravity sensitive research and research related to materials in extreme environments, were included in a mix of biologists, physicists and engineers. Identifying their experiments, interests and related investigation capabilities, they also needed to show a willingness to grow a program using the microgravity environment, as noted in their applications for the workshop. NMSU students and faculty also joined the workshop, along with the students and faculty of the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and Northern New Mexico College.
Held in plenary session, the session topics included life sciences and biomedical research opportunities; physical and materials sciences and engineering and technology research opportunities; commercial, start up, and entrepreneurial opportunities and related New Mexico assets; and remote sensing and earth observation opportunities. Representatives from CASIS, NMSU, Arrowhead Center, Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic and Dr. Steven Collicott, a seasoned ISS experimenter from the College of Engineering at Purdue University, all gave their significant presentations to the participants.
The three research topics that showed strong promise met the requirements to launch their research experiments within 1 to 3 years. In addition, Calculex, a local company, whose founder is an alumnus of NMSU, was an additional potential research topic.
One of the topics explained was using New Mexico’s Spaceport America to have research equipment first tested in the microgravity environment prior to inclusion of a commercial cargo launch. This determines the viability of the equipment from space-travel stress, not to mention saving lots of money if their equipment is not tested first.
CASIS manages the U.S. National Laboratory on ISS, which accelerates commercial research and development, providing breakthroughs by giving scientific, commercial and educational industries equal access to space to better humankind. Having been appointed by Congress, CASIS identifies opportunities to access ISS, in which researchers take advantage of its unique environment, financially providing a return in investments, but more importantly, improving life on earth to U.S. citizens. CASIS brings together multiple parties that enable innovative research results, assisting in research, making connections, hardware and funding, according to the CASIS website.
The workshop’s goal was twofold as participants learned about how to launch their experiments, and the attendees also helped CASIS learn what lab equipment participants need for their experiments on the Space Station.
For more information about Arrowhead Technology Incubator, visit http://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/blog/Resources/arrowhead-technology-incubator/
For a full list of meeting outcomes, speakers and more, visit www.nmspacegrant.com, and more information about CASIS, visit http://www.iss-casis.org/Home.aspx#