NASA and International Partners Discuss New Uses for Space Station

WASHINGTON -- The Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) for the
International Space Station partner agencies met Tuesday, July 26, to
discuss how to use the space station as a test bed for technologies
that will enable missions beyond low Earth orbit.

The board will begin identifying several specific technology
collaboration initiatives based on possible future missions suggested
by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. These
technology developments and demonstrations on the station could
support voyages to an asteroid or Mars or the development of lunar habitats.

The MCB also discussed efforts to increase station use and reported on
the status of standardization efforts for rendezvous and proximity
operations, interfaces for replaceable items and payloads and command
protocols for spacecraft. The recently released revision of the
International Docking Systems Standard can be downloaded at:


Ongoing space station research includes:
- The uses of the International Space Station as a national laboratory
are growing. Memorandums of understanding are in place between NASA
and other U.S. government agencies such as the National Institutes of
Health, which is now in its second year of selecting experiments
related to human health research.

Space Act Agreements also are active with private firms and
universities in the areas of vaccine development for bacterial
pathogens, gene differentiation for production of new plant
cultivars, nanocube scale experiment systems, hyper-spectral imaging
for agricultural applications and advanced propulsion technologies.
Earlier this month, NASA formally selected the Center for the
Advancement of Science in Space for negotiation of a cooperative
agreement to stimulate, develop and manage uses of the station by
organizations other than NASA.

- The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer has collected more than 2 billion
observations of galactic cosmic rays since its launch and
installation on the space station in May. The astrophysics instrument
is a partnership of hundreds of scientists and sixteen countries led
by Nobel laureate Samuel Ting.

- Robotic technologies developed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
for the station have been used to improve the dexterity of surgeons
in fine scale surgery. NASA will be testing a humanoid robot,
Robonaut, developed in partnership with General Motors in the coming
months. The first test of robotically controlled refueling in orbit,
developed jointly by NASA and CSA, launched earlier this month aboard
Atlantis' STS-135 flight.

- The space station partnership is working to share data from remote
sensing instruments mounted on the orbiting outpost and to increase
the application of such data to disaster response. The Hyperspectral
Imager for the Coastal Ocean has collected more than 3,510 images,
providing unprecedented spectral resolution of difficult-to-map
coastal waters. The International Space Station Agricultural Camera
collected its first images on June 10. Its data is used to assess
crop health and rapid changes during the growing season.

- NASA's studies of crew health have identified relationships between
diet and bone loss that offer important insights for future studies.
Recently published data on chemical changes in pharmaceuticals
identified that low-dose ionizing radiation in orbit degrades many
medications, and that additional development of space-hardy
medications will be needed for human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit.

- The Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, continues experiments
aimed at human adaptation to future long-term expeditions. Effects of
the flight conditions on the cardiovascular system, the respiratory
system and bones are being investigated in dedicated medical
experiments. Wheat and vegetables are being planted, followed by
genetic, microbiological and biochemical tests of the plants. Four
different long-duration Russian astrobiology experiments from
Expose-R returned after two years of open space exposure.

- In addition to astronomical and Earth observations, Japan promotes
biotechnological research by analyzing structures of high-quality
protein crystals created on the station leading to treatments for
muscular dystrophy. Japan also continues experiments related to
future long-term human spaceflight missions such as investigating
bone loss mechanism, the effects of radiation and countermeasures of
those. Scientists have gained insight to the fields of fundamental
life and materials science from research conducted in the Kibo laboratory.

- With the return of European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo
Nespoli in May, ESA successfully concluded a focal set of research
known as the "MagISStra" mission. Recently returned long-duration
experiments include: a year-long radiation exposure experiment
conducted with Roscosmos, nine different European astrobiology
experiments after two years of open space exposure and the CFS-A
study of fungi after five months in space. The completion of the ZAG
and Otolith experiments by shuttle crew members gives new, unexpected
insight into human balance. The Materials Science Laboratory now has
the ability to cool rapidly metal alloy samples, with new cartridges
expanding its use by the research community. These experiments are
being performed in collaboration with the station's international partners.

- Educational activities on the station reach thousands of students
around the world. In May and June, hundreds of thousands of students
watched the adaptation of spiders to a space environment and compared
their behavior to spiders in classrooms on Earth through the website
BioEdOnline.org. The spiders returned to Earth on Thursday, July 21.
Students in the U.S., Europe and Japan had the opportunity to propose
investigations for the space station and astronauts conducted the
winning activities.

The MCB includes senior representatives from NASA, CSA, ESA, Roscosmos
and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and
Technology. The MCB meets periodically to ensure coordination of
station operations and activities among the partners. The board is
working to tabulate station utilization metrics and document
accomplishments for a publication to be released by September.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:


For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:


For more information about the Canadian Space Agency, visit:


For more information about the European Space Agency, visit:


For more information about the Russian Federal Space Agency, visit:


For more information about Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and Technology, visit:



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