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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a federal organization, and the annual federal budget approved by the US Congress is where it gets its financing.

Both significant and minor advantages result from NASA’s distinctive mission. Spending on space exploration boosts the economy, creates jobs, and helps new firms get off the ground. These technologies help people live better lives, boost medical research, aid in disaster relief, and more. They are always changing and looking for new ways to improve things. For a program that would allow scientists to travel to the ISS (International Space Station) on missions that are private to perform research that could eventually be transferred to NASA astronauts, the science division of NASA is looking for financing.

Craig Kundrot, who is the director in charge of the NASA’s biological as well as physical sciences division, stated during a speech at a National Academies committee meeting on July 13 that the organization is seeking financing for an program that could let “hyper-specialized” scientists travel to the ISS as well as future commercial space stations starting in the fiscal year 2023.

He compared what he was saying to payload specialists who went on shuttle flights by saying, “We aspire to get scientists back into space.” Among those non-career astronauts were engineers and scientists who went on research flights. One, Charlie Walker, conducted microgravity experiments for his workplace, McDonnell Douglas while flying on three shuttle missions.

“We are contemplating a different form of that given that we have, in this expanding, emerging commercial sector, the private astronaut mission capability,” he said. “We intend to use that to fly highly specialized scientists to conduct research in low Earth orbit that is really very difficult to do even for the most tightly trained astronaut in that discipline.”

Requests for information (RFIs), also known as the CERISS program or Commercially Enabled Rapid Space Science, will be the first step, he said. In one RFI, businesses will be questioned about the research capabilities they already have or are creating for utilization in low Earth orbit. A second request for information (RFI) will enquire about the topics in which it would be advantageous for scientists to undertake their research in orbit.

Using the responses to the RFIs as a guide, NASA will then finance proposals for the development and testing of research hardware and analysis capabilities. Grants to use those resources for research, including sending scientists to the ISS, would come after that.

Two private astronaut missions (PAMs), which can last up to 30 days each, are permitted to the ISS each year under NASA’s current ISS commercialization strategy. One option, according to Kundrot, is to pair NASA astronauts with scientists traveling on commercial flights to the ISS in a type of “buddy system,” training the astronaut to carry on the research after the scientist has left.

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