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NASA Identifies New Commercial Opportunities for Space Station

Jeff Brody

NASA has unveiled a five-part plan to expand commercial research and development opportunities aboard the International Space Station to support low-Earth orbit missions.

The agency said Friday it looks to industry partners to drive space exploration and support NASA’s ongoing LEO activities through services such as astronaut training and technology testing.

More than 50 companies provide R&D services through the ISS National Lab and 11 companies work with the agency to build commercial facilities on the orbiting laboratory to accommodate various projects.

NASA intends to expand the ISS National Lab directive to allow manufacturing and marketing activites on the station for Earth-based commercial sales and establish prices for private sector use of government resources.

As part of the strategy, the agency plans to make 5 percent of its annual resource allocation available to the private sector; launch a maximum of 30-day private missions starting in 2020; and authorize up to two privately funded short-duration missions to the ISS every year.

NASA also included additional focus areas for research solicitations to cover bioengineering, in-space manufacturing, regenerative medecine and other sustainability-focused operations.

Comment period of the new agency plan ends July 3.

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