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ISSRDC Announces “Steps to Space” Session to Educate Future Researchers

Session includes multiple ISS National Lab Commercial Service Providers, as well as former NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Tim Kopra

BOSTON (MA), June 27, 2024 – Launching an investigation to the International Space Station (ISS) requires several steps and collaboration, and a session at the ISS Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) will showcase some of the critical partners that support research on station. ISSRDC is the only conference dedicated to the science and technology development taking place on our nation’s orbiting laboratory and the growing economy in low Earth orbit (LEO). ISSRDC 2024 will be held from July 29 to August 1 at the Marriott Copley Place in Boston, with this session slated for Wednesday, July 31.

Conducting research through NASA and the ISS National Lab requires highly committed teams working together and takes a tremendous amount of forethought, strategy, and tactical execution. From designing and preparing an investigation for flight to ensuring smooth in-orbit operations and then successfully returning the payload to Earth for analysis, Implementation Partners provide valuable support. This session, “Enabling Technology Development on the ISS and Future LEO Platforms,” aims to educate researchers on the steps to launch a project to the orbiting laboratory and will provide examples of recent projects supported by these partners.

The session will be moderated by ISS National Lab Director of Payload Operations Robbie Hampton, who will be joined by the following panelists:

  • Rick Mastracchio, former NASA astronaut and Northrop Grumman director of strategy and business development: Northrop Grumman is one of three companies responsible for transporting critical research and cargo to the space station through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract. This summer, the company will launch its 21st CRS mission to the space station carrying more than 8,200 pounds of cargo, including dozens of investigations spanning multiple research disciplines.


  • Kris Kuehnel, managing director for space exploration services at Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc.: Airbus is an ISS National Lab Commercial Service Provider that works with researchers from around the world and offers a wide variety of external ISS payload hosting services for groundbreaking research. Recently, the company launched ArgUS, which expands the payload hosting options and capabilities of Bartolomeo, a platform on the exterior of the space station that exposes payloads to the extreme space environment.


  • Tim Kopra, former NASA astronaut and chief executive officer at Starlab and Nanoracks, part of Voyager’s Exploration Segment: Nanoracks is an ISS National Lab Commercial Service Provider that supports projects both inside and outside the space station, including the launch of hundreds of CubeSats from the ISS. Nanoracks is currently working with Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. and Sphere Entertainment to test a high-resolution camera system in the harsh conditions of space. This project is slated to launch later this summer.

A series of announcements in the coming weeks will highlight additional keynote speakers and panel sessions at ISSRDC 2024. This year’s conference also features lightning talks, plenary presentations, technical sessions, workshops, an investor session, and networking opportunities. The ISSRDC Marketplace Expo allows companies to showcase recent advancements in LEO and provides a venue to meet with researchers and stakeholders.

ISSRDC is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space™ (CASIS™), manager of the ISS National Lab; NASA; and the American Astronautical Society. To learn more about ISSRDC, including how to register, exhibit, and become a sponsor, please visit our conference website.

About the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory:

The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Laboratory® allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve quality of life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology, and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space™ (CASIS™) manages the ISS National Lab, under Cooperative Agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit our website.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, CASIS accepts corporate and individual donations to help advance science in space for the benefit of humanity. For more information, visit our donations page. 

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